Analysis of Racial Profiling as Policy Analysis
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Vol. 21, No. 2, 287-300 (2002)
14 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2013
Date Written: 2002
Policy analysis techniques emphasize the tension between efficiency and equity in public decision-making (Friedman; 1984, 2002). This tension is aptly illustrated by the problem of racial profiling. The following case study and accompanying problem set help to underscore the difficulty of making public choices that pit cost-effectiveness or efficiency against civil liberties, civil rights and the equity goals of society.
There is a growing literature pointing to racial disparities in traffic stops. Knowles, Persico and Todd (1999) report that in a stretch of interstate highway in Maryland (I-95) from 1995 to 1999, 63 percent of all motorists searched were African American. They report, however, that only 18 percent of the motorists on the road were African American. Similar patterns of disproportionality have been found in studies accusing the New Jersey State Patrol of racial bias (Kocieniewski and Hanley, 2000). The findings of racial profiling have resulted in a number of high-profile class action suits against police departments (Wilson, 2000; Higgin and Mihalopoulos, 2000; Nando Times, 2000; Still, 1999).
These allegations have resulted in a number of different policy responses. Some states or police departments have focussed on banning racial profiling (Eddings, 2001; Times Union, Albany, 2001). Others have focused on collecting racial data on stops and searches (Poughkeepsie Journal, 2001; Doxsey, 2001; Jones, 2001; Find Law Legal News 2000; Bustillo, 2000). Many have instituted training and education programs to assist their law enforcement agencies in surviving costly litigation.
Keywords: policy analysis, racial bias, disproportionality
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