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May 15, 2023

1. What effect do Regulatory Criminal Laws have on police/minority relations?


2. Are minorities more susceptible to Regulatory Criminal Law enforcement because of heavy police deployment and activity quota policies? Explain your answer.

3. Should police deployment to minority neighborhoods be reduced? What about the high victimization rates in those neighborhoods? Explain your answer.

The Impact of
Regulatory Criminal Law on
American Criminal Justice

Are There Too Many Laws?


Vincent Del Castillo

chapter 10

This chapter will explore the issue of race relations and the various ways regulatory criminal laws contribute to strained relations between police and minority communities. Minority recruitment into police departments as a means of alleviating some of those issues will also be reviewed. Particular attention will be given to the practice of police discretion, racial profiling, stop and frisk, and the vulnerability of inner city residents to opportunistic regulatory criminal law enforcement.
Racial disparity in the United States can be traced back to the establishment of the country. The acceptance of slavery by the founders and the continuance of the practice was a direct contradiction to the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, particularly the conviction that all men are created equal. Although many of the founders were against slavery, the issue became subordinate to the need to establish a union that could withstand the possible return of the British army.
The practice of slavery was not unique to America, however; throughout history conquering nation’s enslaved people to serve in a variety of capacities, from domestic servants to agricultural and construction laborers. The perception that racial differences equaled inferiority only served to justify the practice. However, the idea of racial inferiority was inconsistent with the principles under which America was founded and there were continual efforts to resolve this disparity. Nevertheless, fiscal differences among the states exacerbated the controversy over slavery, leaving no amicable resolution to the problem. The agricultural southern states relied on slavery out of economic necessity while the northern states depended more heavily on industries where slavery was not particularly suitable. The issue of slavery continued to divide the country until its abolition following the Civil War.
The abolishment of slavery did not resolve the problems associated with race relations, however. Blacks were still considered socially inferior to whites, particularly in the South. Racial segregation was practiced openly and unabashedly in virtually every segment of society, including in churches, schools, restaurants and public transportation. These practices continued until the 1950s, when incidents of resistance began to gain national prominence. For example, in 1955, a woman by the name of Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to sit in the “colored section” of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.1 Also, in a landmark case (Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Kansas) the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Finally, in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act that prohibited any kind of discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin.2 The 1960s also witnessed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and an executive order by President Johnson requiring government contractors to take affirmative action in all aspects of hiring and employment. That is, to give preferential consideration to minorities in order to compensate for past discrimination in hiring.
The 1960s was also an era of civil unrest across the country. Demonstrations for racial equality occurred simultaneously with protests by anti-Vietnam War sympathizers and frequently devolved into riots. Most police officers in the 1960s had never experienced a riot or angry demonstration and most departments did not include riot control in their academy training. Therefore, police, who were not prepared to control large-scale demonstrations, often precipitated riots by their over-reaction to the behavior of the demonstrators. For example, in Selma, Alabama, in 1965, civil rights marchers led by the Reverend Martin Luther King were set upon by police wielding clubs and cattle prods. In 1967, one of the worst riots took place in Detroit. It took five days to restore order and only after 43 people died, about 7,000 were arrested, 1,300 buildings were destroyed and 2,700 businesses were looted. After the Reverend Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968, rioting, looting and burning erupted in over one hundred cities across the country. Many spontaneous riots also erupted over police actions that resulted in the death or serious injury of a member of the black community. One of the incidents that achieved national prominence involved the video taping of several Los Angeles police officers beating a black motorist, Rodney King, who apparently offered little resistance. Six days of rioting broke out in 1992 after four of those officers were acquitted of all charges, including assault. In the wake of those riots, over 50 people had died, 2,383 injuries were reported, over 13,000 people were arrested and over $700 million in property damage was reported.3

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