they arrest adolescents, counting similar behavior as more serious when carried out by blacks.

A variety of studies have sought to document police bias in their encounters with juveniles. Results have been mixed and conclusions inconsistent, perhaps because of variations over time and in location. Some of the earliest studies reported disparities in the treatment of white and black suspects, to the disadvantage of the latter. These disparities were attributed to factors other than race itself, such as to the more frequently disrespectful demeanor of black (or other minority) suspects (Black, 1971), or to the more frequently proarrest preferences of black complainants (Black and Reiss, 1970; Lundman et al., 1978). In a reanalysis of his earlier work, Black (1980:107-108) reconsidered his earlier conclusion about racial bias, finding that black offenders were more likely to be treated in a punitive fashion by the police even though they were not more likely to be arrested. In subsequent analyses, Smith and Visher (1981) and Mastrofski et al. (1995) showed that race had an effect on police behavior, independent of other factors. Research has not consistently shown that minorities are treated more harshly than whites in terms of arrest (Mastrofski et al., 1995) or the use of force (Friedrich, 1980).

Smith and colleagues (1984) found that the effect of citizens' race on police arrest decisions was contingent on other factors. In police encounters with suspects only (and no victims), white and black men were (with other factors held constant) at equal risk of arrest, while white women were at much lower risk than black women. Furthermore, in encounters involving both suspects and victims, police were more likely to arrest if the victim was white and the crime was a property offense. While the police were more likely to comply with the preference of a white victim for arrest, the race of the suspect had no effect. Again, to illustrate the complexity of studying this problem, Mastrofski et al. (1995) failed to replicate these findings in a subsequent study.

The two most widely cited analyses of police encounters with juveniles (Black and Reiss, 1970; Lundman et al., 1978) were based on data collected for large-scale observational studies in 1966 and 1970, respectively. Since that time, the implementation of the due-process revolution4


Due process refers to the basic rights of a defendant in criminal proceedings and the requisites for a fair trial. The basic due process rights are embodied in the 5th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The due process revolution refers to the expansion of these rights and requirements by the Supreme Court to include timely notice of a hearing or trial which informs the accused of the charges against him or her; the opportunity to confront accusers and to present evidence on one's own behalf before an impartial jury or judge; the right of an accused to be warned of constitutional rights at the earliest stage of the criminal process; and the guarantee that an individual will not be tried more than once for the same offense (Black et al., 1990).

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