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24 J. Res. Crime & Delinquency 3 (1987)

handle is hein.journals/jrcd24 and id is 1 raw text is: 



                               EDITOR'S COMMENTS


   Disagreements  on matters  of legal policy between the attorney
general of the United States and the Federal Judiciary have occasioned a
good  deal  of contemporary   attention; however, they  are hardly
unknown   in other times. One of the more useful interchanges, rare
because it elevated understanding of an issue, occurred in the late 1960s
between then Attorney General of the United States Nicholas Katzen-
bach and  Judge David  Bazelon of the Washington, D.C.  bench. The
attorney general, in response to a letter from Judge Bazelon, asserted
that the criminal law should not be expected to redress inequities in the
larger society and that its appropriate goal in this regard was to
minimize the inequities in the criminaljustice system. In sum, he argued
that the best we should expect is for similarly situated individuals to be
treated similarly. The fact that there may have been an inequity in their
initial status was beyond the purview of the criminal justice system. In
fact, attempts to redress these kinds of inequities could result in even
greater injustices in the end.
   The first article in this issue of the Journal of Research in Crime and
Delinquency  illustrates the difficulty of demonstrating inappropriate
inequities in the criminal justice system. In this instance, the concern is
race and ethnic bias. Zatz, in the lead article, discusses four relatively
distinct eras or waves of research on disparity based on race or ethnic
biases in the criminal justice system. The first, through the mid-1960s,
typically found discrimination against minorities. The second, in the
late 1960s and 1970s, suggested that, with the exception of the death
penalty in the South, findings of improper discrimination were more
often than not an artifact of poor research designs. Research during this
period often confirmed, for example, that the overrepresentation of
minorities in the criminal justice system stemmed from their propor-
tionally greater involvement in crime. A third wave in the late 1970s and
1980s, using advances in research techniques, found that both overt and,
more  particularly, subtle forms of biases against minority defendants
did occur at least in some social context. The fourth wave, begun in the
1980s and largely directed toward determinate sentencing guidelines,
found again subtle biases against minority defendants. The definition of
these terms and the forms of this discrimination are an important part of
Professor Zatz's article and her analysis, and discussions of these issues
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from the SAGE Social Science Collections. All Rights Reserved.

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