Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKEssays.com.

Racial Profiling

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 3005 words Published: 2nd Nov 2016

Reference this

Racial Profiling


This manuscript will take an in-depth look at racial profiling. Many studies have been conducted on this type of practice and a few of these studies will be observed. Concerns for racial profiling such as racial tax, impacts on minorities, and police citizen partnerships will also be addressed and how it affects the individual, criminal justice field and the community. Some sanctions will also be discussed to find ways on how to combat this practice. Finally the cases of Atwater v. City of Lago Vista and Terry v. Ohio will be compared.

Racial Profiling

The debate involving racial profiling is been around for many years. There have been many studies of about this issue over the past 20 years. Some researchers believe that racial profiling does not have a place in the criminal justice system. Although others disagree with this claim and believe that it does have a place in the criminal justice field and does stop crime. This manuscript will take an in-depth look at the constitutional issues, correctional initiatives, and compare two cases dealing with racial profiling.

Literature Review

Higgins, Gabbidon and Vito (2009) conduct a study focusing on the public opinion on racial profiling during traffic stops. They collected data from Gallup there runs a poll every few years on the perception of whites and minorities on several issues. The sample size was 2,000 randomly selected Americans of many different races and ethnic backgrounds. Dependent variables were tested by using two different questions that include the following: “is it ever justifiable for police use racial or ethnic profiling, and if they felt that racial profiling was widespread when motorists are stop on roads and highways” (Higgins, Gabbidon, and Vito, 2009). The independent variables were tested by finding out what the relationship between each race was. The demographics for the study found that 47% of the survey respondents were male with an average income of $50,000 to $75,000. The sample also showed that 37% were black and 22% Hispanic (Higgins, Gabbidon, and Vito 2009). The results of this study showed that there were mixed results when dealing with race relations and safety concerns. The researchers show that race relations had an influence on racial profiling, while safety did not.

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

A study conducted by Parker, McDonald, Alpert, Smith, and Piquero (2004) focuses on the contextualized examination of racial profiling. This study basically looks at multiple studies conducted by many other researchers on the topic of racial profile. The authors conclude that community level characteristics and their relationship to racial profiling are unknown. They also argue that the clarity and meaning of racial profiling is lacking (Parker et al., 2004). The study also shows that more analysis should be done to see the relationship between police discretion and racial profiling.

Kim (2004) examines how religious individuals feel towards racial profiling. The researcher collected data from the ABC News/The Washington Post Afghanistan Attack Poll #2. The sample size consisted of 1,009 adult participants ranging from the ages of 18 and older and living in the United States (Kim, 2004). In a survey that was conducted the participants were asked their religious identification, their race, and feelings about racial profiling. The researcher found that religious Americans are more likely to support the racial profiling of Muslims or people Arab descent. The author believes that this is true because of the public safety because of the events that occurred on September 11, 2001.

Ramirez, Hoopes, and Quinlan (2003) also look at racial profiling in this definition after the events that occurred on September 11, 2001. They first take a look at the case of Wilkins v. Maryland State Police. This case was brought up by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) about statistics of stops done on Maryland Turnpike. It showed a big contrast in the amount driver searched by the Maryland State police because a study showed that 79.2% were African-American (Ramirez, Hoopes, and Quinlan, 2003). The authors then look at different definitions for the phrase racial profiling of pre-September 11 and post-September 11 and believe that they are not easily understood. They believe that a more distinct definition should be developed for law enforcement officials to use.

Oliver (2003) discusses constitutional concerns when dealing with the topic of racial profiling. The author takes a look at Fourth Amendment and how it affects racial profiling. This article takes an in-depth look at Atwater v. City of Lago Vista. The case was brought forth because Gail Atwater felt that she was illegally stopped by police because of a race. This case made its way to the United States Supreme Court and the justices found the officers actions did not violate the Constitution. The majority of five justices said that it did not violate the Fourth Amendment because a warrantless arrest is legal for minor criminal offenses (Oliver, 2003). The author believes that this case reshaped the fourth amendment of the United States Constitution.

In an article written by Simmons (2011) racial profiling is examined for some definitive solutions. The author discusses some of the harms that racial profiling has on the victims. The researcher believes that racial profiling imposes a racial tax on individuals and groups that are subject to this practice (Simmons, 2011). Other harms that the author discusses are the impacts on monitory communities, and impacts on police citizen partnerships (Simmons, 2011). The author also discusses how there have been some push for legislation to help stop racial profiling, but the legislation failed to pass. The researcher believes the more studies need to be performed to help resolve the issue of racial profiling.

Smith and Alpert (2002) discuss how the use of social sciences can help the court system resolve the issues of racial profiling. The authors also discuss some of constitutional constraints when dealing with racial profiling in the legal system. The researchers state “That most stops done by law enforcement officers based solely on race are generally found unconstitutional in the courts” (Smith and Alpert, 2002). The authors also discuss some legal remedies racial profiling. They claim that this type of practice done by law enforcement officers is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. Smith and Alpert (2002) also discuss how the fourth amendment is rarely applicable in cases dealing with racial profiling because of the Supreme Court’s decision of Whren v. United States. They conclude by stating the most court cases that deal with racial profiling ultimately fail because the plaintiffs do not have enough solid research.

Durlauf (2006) wrote an article discussing some of the problems of racial profiling in traffic stops. The author shows that there been no benefits identified for the use of racial profile. He believes that the harm to the individuals is greater than the benefits for the use of this practice. He concludes by stating that he rejects any form profiling in traffic stops as a public policy (Durlauf, 2006).

In a study conducted by Glaser (2006) the author says is difficult to test the effects of racial profiling because the data is difficult to secure. The researcher during his study simulates racial profiling to see how it affects two different groups. In his first scenario the two groups had the same incarceration rate of 10%. In this scenario no profiling is done in the results come out say the same for both groups. In the next scenario the researcher changes criminality rate for one group to 25% and lowers the second group to only 6.25% (Glaser, 2006). The researcher shows when this occurs and profiling is put into the equation that the group with a higher criminality rate is five times more likely to be incarcerated than the other group.

Risse and Zeckhauser (2004) published an article looking at the moral aspect of racial profiling and how to eliminate from ones thoughts of the subject. The authors give a brief history and some conflicting definitions of the phrase racial profiling. They believe that some of the definitions that other researchers use can be confusing and hard to understand. Risse and Zeckhauser (2004) shows it is hard to prove racial profiling because law enforcement use the defense of suspicious activity not solely stopping somebody because of the race. The researchers believe that racial profiling can be used in some cases for the better public safety. The authors conclude that they do know that racial profiling does hurt the African American community, but also believe that it does lower crime rates.


Constitution and Law

The topic of racial profiling has constitutional and criminal law issues need to be addressed. Oliver (2003) identifies the major constitutional issues the Fourth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment. The fourth amendment can be summarized as illegal search and seizure. In the case of Atwater v. City of Lago Vista the Supreme Court role that the police officers stop on this Atwater did not violate the fourth amendment because for minor criminal offenses a warrantless arrest is permitted (Oliver, 2003). The 14th amendment is known as the Equal Protection Clause and was developed for the protection of individuals no matter what their race or ethnic background was. This is been an issue because the 14th amendment has not been very adequate to help the victims of racial profiling. The reason for this is because racial profiling is very hard to prove. Another issue when dealing with racial profiling is many plaintiffs lose cases dealing with racial profiling because they have not gathered enough solid research (Smith and Alpert, 2002).


Many concerns can arise when dealing with racial profiling because they can affect many people. Simmons (2011) discusses three of these concerns and they are as follows: imposes a racial tax, impacts minority communities, and impacts police citizen partnerships. When dealing with racial profiling the so-called “racial tax” many people in the community can suffer psychological and emotional harms. This can be devastating to the individual because they can make them feel unwanted in the community. The community also suffers because word can spread the police officers are profiling a certain race and then trust the criminal justice field falls. The concern that racial profiling has impacts on minority communities can be justified for some of the same reasons stated above. This is also concerned because the practice of racial profiling may lead to higher incarceration rates among the community (Simmons, 2011). This can be harmful to the criminal justice field for some of the same reasons stated above and can have an impact on correctional facilities because it may cause more overcrowding. Racial profiling impacts police citizen partnerships because the trust of the police falls to the individual and the community as a whole.

Another concern the may arise with the topic of racial profiling can be the issue of airport security. The impact of not using racial profiling on certain races can have a huge impact on the communities at large. This author believes that racial profiling is wrong in most cases but when it comes to protecting large groups of people should be used. If an individual board the plane with a bomb and was not racial profile this could have an impact on the criminal justice system as well. The country as a whole may feel that the criminal justice system do not do their job properly in stopping such an attack.

One more concern could be the racial profiling of the teacher at a University. This can impact the victim because it makes them feel not welcomed at the institution because of the race and ethnic background. If students do not trust the teacher just because of their race, this can have an impact on the school community because lawsuits may arise. These lawsuits in turn will have an impact on the criminal justice field is a may tie up the courts.


Some initiative should be put into place to stop the practice of racial profiling. Most of the public believes the racial profiling should not be used in any shape or form. In order to combat this some sort of punishments may need to be put in place to stop profiling. One way to combat this practice could be to impose community service on individuals who commit racial profiling. This would not be a hard punishment to impose because it could help the community as a whole. Some logistical issues would be to find the appropriate project for the individual to work on. This project could be in the minority community that the individual committed racial profiling against.

A second initiative to help stop the practice of racial profiling is to impose fines. This would be easy to apply once the law was set into place. One of the issues that may occur though, is setting the correct amount of money they should be fined against the individual who committed racial profiling. A third and final initiative could be shaming. This may be harder to implement because it is not well-known to the community. One of the logistical issues that may arise is getting adults to cooperate with the initiative. Most adults are not going to stand on the side of the road holding a sign that says “I’m a racial profiler”. These types’ individuals would rather pay the fine first. Another issue is to find the appropriate place to hold shaming, such as a community square or popular mall. This author believes that if shaming should occur in the community that the individual committed racial profiling.


There are many cases that involve racial profiling, but Atwater v. City of Largo Vista is one that has been studied many times. Gail Atwater was driving a pickup truck and was pulled over due to what the officer said was a seatbelt violation (Oliver, 2003). This is brought forth to the Supreme Court as a racial profiling case because a few weeks before the same officer pulled over Gail Atwater for the same violation. The issue was that all the passengers were belted in properly. Although the seatbelt violation on how to find $50, the Atwater family felt that they were racially profiled. The Supreme Court later ruled that the case did not involve racial profiling because warrantless arrests are permitted and minor offenses (Oliver, 2003).

Find Out How UKEssays.com Can Help You!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our services

In a similar case of Terry v. Ohio police officer stopped three men that he thought and committed the crime just moments before. When the officer asked what their name was, they just kind of mumbled. The officer then proceeded to search the men and found a weapon on one of them in an inside pocket. Two the men were charged with carrying a concealed weapon and taken to the police station. The defense for the two men one of the charges dropped because of illegal search and seizure. This case made to the Supreme Court and later developed a Terry stop. This was the case that did not involve racial profiling but involved reasonable suspicion. The outcomes of these two trials did affect individuals because in one case someone was fined, and in the other they were put in jail.


As discussed throughout this manuscript there are many problems and concerns that arise when dealing with racial profiling. This type of practice is still used very hard to prove. The concerns that were mentioned previously are one of the reasons that racial profiling should be stopped. This author believes that more research needs to be done in order to find the right way to combat this practice.


Durlauf, S., (2006). Assessing racial profiling. The Economic Journal. 116.

Glaser, J., (2006). The efficacy and effect of racial profiling: a mathematical simulation

approach. Journal of Policy Analysis Management. 5(2), 395-416.

Higgins, G., Gabbidon, S., Vito, G., (2009). Exploring the influence of race relations in public

safety concerns on public support for racial profiling during traffic stops. International

Journal of Police Science & Management. 12(1). 12-22.

Kim, P., (2004). Conditional morality? The American Behavioral Scientist. 47(7), 879-895.

Oliver, S., (2003). The role profiling American society: racial profiling: Atwater v. City

of Largo Vista: the disappearing fourth amendment and its impacts on racial profiling.

Journal of Law and Social Challenges. 5(1).

Parker, K., Macdonald, J., Alpert, G., Smith, M., Piquero, A., (2004). A contextual study of

racial profiling. The American Behavioral Scientist. 47(7), 943-962.

Ramirez, D., Hoopes, J., Quinlan, t., (2003). Define racial profiling in a post September 11

world. The American Civil Law Review. 40(3), 1195-1233

Risse, M., Zeckhauser, R., (2004). Racial profling. Philosophy and Public Affairs. 32(2), 131-


Smith, M., Alpert G., (2002). Searching for direction: courts, social science, in the adjudication

of racial profiling claims. Justice Quarterly. 19(4). 673-703

Simmons, K., (2011). Beginning to end racial profiling: definitive solutions to an elusive

problem. Washiington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justive. 18(25).


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: