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Harvard law professor Kennedy takes full account of discrimination by prosecutors and judges toward minority defendants, and by police and politicians who neglect the public safety of minority neighborhoods. But he contends that these problems have been largely ameliorated in recent decades by a genuine decline in white racism and a greatly expanded role for minorities in the political and legal systems. He fears that poorly substantiated allegations of racism will "elicit stubborn defensiveness from officials who can concede having been mistaken but cannot abide the charge that racial bias determined their conduct." Kennedy insists that we "look beyond looks" whenever race becomes an issue within the criminal justice system; he notes that doing so sometimes leads to conclusions that contradict the presumption, shared by many on the left, that racism is always at the root of differential results. Thus, he finds a disturbing residuum of bigotry in the Supreme Court's approval of the often race-based criminal "profiles" used by law enforcement to identify likely criminals and illegal aliens; on the other hand, he faults critics of the large discrepancy in sentences between those convicted of offenses involving crack, most of whom are black, and those convicted of powder cocaine offenses, most of whom are white, for failing to take into account crack's much greater availability to (and devastating impact on) African-Americans. He also excoriates Georgetown law professor Paul Butler for counseling black jurors to protest white racism by acquitting some clearly guilty black defendants; Kennedy believes such a practice would further erode already weak public support for the jury system.
Whether his specific analyses are right or wrong, Kennedy's insistence on substituting thought for sloganeering is a refreshing anomaly in the bitter debate over the legal system's treatment of minorities.
|1||The Race Question in Criminal Law: Changing the Politics of the Conflict||3|
|2||History: Unequal Protection||29|
|3||History: Unequal Enforcement||76|
|4||Race, Law, and Suspicion: Using Color as a Proxy for Dangerousness||136|
|5||Race and the Composition of Juries: Setting the Ground Rules||168|
|6||Race and the Composition of Juries: The Peremptory Challenge||193|
|7||Race and Composition of Juries: From Antidiscrimination to Imposing Diversity||231|
|8||Playing the Race Card in a Criminal Trial||256|
|9||Race, Law, and Punishment: The Death Penalty||311|
|10||Race, Law, and Punishment: The War on Drugs||351|