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Minorities, Trust of Peers and Criminal Justice: Discrimination by Probabilities

Nicholas L. Georgakopoulos

Indiana University - Robert H. McKinney School of Law


This paper examines ramifications for criminal enforcement of trust of peers in a society that divides into a majority and a minority. Trust of peers means that members of one group tend to trust other members of the same group more than members of the other group. Three consequences are identified. First, the two groups may have different preferences regarding criminalization of conducts. The majority group may prefer to criminalize conducts which the minority group would allow or treat with civil liability only. Second, given inaccuracies in the system of criminal trials, the minority will be overrepresented in the group of the convicted. Correcting for the potential for false convictions, the minority will consider optimal sentences shorter than those the majority would consider optimal.

Finally, an economically disadvantaged minority may face a lower opportunity cost of crime and appear to have stronger criminal proclivities. Those may justify small deviations from proportionate allocation of enforcement resources. However, on examining different criminal proclivities, enforcement budgets smaller than optimal may lead to accentuated disproportionate allocation of enforcement effort to minorities.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 32

JEL Classification: D31, H11, J7, K00, K31

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Date posted: December 20, 2000  

Suggested Citation

Georgakopoulos, Nicholas L., Minorities, Trust of Peers and Criminal Justice: Discrimination by Probabilities (Undated). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=249421 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.249421

Contact Information

Nicholas L. Georgakopoulos (Contact Author)
Indiana University - Robert H. McKinney School of Law ( email )
530 West New York Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
United States
317-274-1825 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.nicholasgeorgakopoulos.org

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