BLACKOUT: The Exclusion of White Offenders

Vernetta D. Young, Howard University

The purpose of this paper is to examine the consequences of excluding white offenders from the dialogue on crime in America. Notwithstanding the fact that white offenders accounted for 68 percent of total arrests and 63 percent of arrests for index offenses in 1998, there has been little discussion of their contribution to the crime problem. However, these 1998 figures are not new but are representative of the contribution of white offenders to the arrest statistics that have been used to gauge crime in America for some time. In this paper we will look historically at the picture of the offender presented by our statistics. We will examine the political consequences of emphasizing the disproportionate arrest of Black offenders to the exclusion of considering the more frequent arrest of White offenders. We will also consider the impact that ignoring white offenders has had on discussions of criminal justice policies and programs, as well as on responses to crime problems occurring in predominately white communities.

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Updated 05/20/2006