African American Women and the Criminal Justice System
Contemporary African American Women
May 6, 2012
Within the criminal justice system, African American women occupy a unique place as offenders. Neither an African American male nor a white female, theoretical research often fails to capture or discuss the issues unique to Black women (Laub and McDermott, 1985, p. 81). The few studies that have attempted to dissect the intersections between race and sex are found within the critical perspective. According to Kraska (2004, p. 219), “combining feminist and race scholarship allows an expanded framework for analyzing criminal justice.” In order to analyze this framework, it is critical to understand the gender roles and sex stereotypes that have often been ascribed to Black women (Young, 1980, p. 33). The consequence of these roles and stereotypes has resulted in their disproportional presence as offenders. In which the incarceration rates for Black women are and have always been higher than her proportion to the general population (Lewis, 1981, p. 93 & Russell-Brown, 2004 p. 125). French (1978, p. 333) further elaborated, “The female population had a higher proportion of Blacks than did the male populations.” Historically, and still in some ways the criminal justice system has been biased against African Americans. Furthermore, it has been noted that women are often treated differently within the criminal justice system. Lastly, it has been well documented within the oppression framework that the law is biased against the lower class. The notion of “triple jeopardy” argues that the African American woman is thrice victimized by the aforementioned biases (Russell-Brown, 2004, p. 130). With this in mind, this paper seeks to explain the subjugated position of African American women within the criminal justice using the major themes outlined in this paragraph, starting with the lack of theoretical research.
Research specifically on...