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Crime and Justice: A review of research
Empirical research on public policy preferences must attend to Whites’ animus toward Blacks. For a quarter-century, studies have consistently found that Kinder and Sanders’s four-item measure of “racial resentment” is a robust predictor of almost every social and criminal justice policy opinion. Racial animus increases Whites’ opposition to social welfare policies that benefit Blacks and their support for punitive policies that disadvantage this “outgroup.” Any public opinion study that fails to include racial resentment risks omitted variable bias. Despite the continuing salience of out-group animus, recent scholarship, especially in political science, has highlighted other racial attitudes that can influence public policy preferences. Two developments are of particular importance. First, Chudy showed the progressive impact of racial sympathy, a positive out-group attitude in which Whites are distressed by incidents of Blacks’ suffering (such as the killing of George Floyd). Second, Jardina and others documented that Whites’ in-group racial attitudes, such as White identity/consciousness or white nationalism, have political consequences, reinforcing the effects of racial resentment. As the United States becomes a majority-minority nation, diverse in-group and out-group racial attitudes are likely to play a central role in policies—including within criminal justice—that the public endorses.
Cullen, F. T., Butler, L. C., & Graham, A. (2021). Racial attitudes and criminal justice policy. In M. Tonry (Ed.) Crime and justice: A review of research (Vol. 50). The University of Chicago Press. https://doi.org/10.1086/715911
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