The election of Barack Obama and perceptions of criminal injustice

James D. Unnever, Shaun L. Gabbidon, George E. Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Informed by a more nuanced racial threat theory, the current study investigates the relationship between the attitudes that African Americans and whites have about the election of Barack Obama as President of the USA and whether they perceive that the police and the criminal justice system are biased against blacks. We test four hypotheses using the 2008 Gallup Minority Rights and Relations/Black-White Social Audit Poll. We first hypothesize that whites and African Americans should substantially differ in their opinions about whether the police and the criminal justice system are biased against blacks. Second, we posit that African Americans and whites should express substantially different opinions regarding the impact of Obama's election on race relations. Third, we hypothe- size that the relationship between perceptions of criminal justice injustices and attitudes toward Obama's election should differ among whites. We theorize that there should be a group of whites-committed racists-who deny that the criminal justice system is biased against African Americans and believe that the election of Barack Obama will worsen race relations. Fourth, we posit that African Americans should nearly unvaryingly believe that the criminal justice system is racist. And, we hypothesize that African American opinions about Barack Obama should have a negligible impact on their perceptions of whether the criminal justice system is racist. The results support these four hypotheses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-45
Number of pages23
JournalJustice Quarterly
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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