Race, Racism, & Crime: An Empirical Assessment of African American Offending Open Access

Isom, Deena Ann (2015)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/tx31qh987?locale=en


In the United States, African Americans are disproportionately more likely to be arrested and incarcerated. Much of this disparity may be explained by the overrepresentation of African Americans in disadvantaged neighborhoods or the systemic discrimination within the criminal justice system. Self-report and victimization data, however, still reveal significant racial differences in criminal behavior. The theory of African American offending (TAAO) posits African Americans experience racial discrimination and criminal justice injustices which lead to negative emotions and weakened social bonds and increase the likelihood of offending. TAAO brings race central to the understanding of offending by emphasizing the significance of racial socialization as a conditioning factor in African Americans' pathway to crime. Agnew's racialized general strain theory (RGST), relatedly, argues African Americans are more likely to experience strains that are conducive to crime, in addition to racial discrimination. Due to their unique history and resultant social position, African Americans are hypothesized to be more likely to encounter economic strains, familial strains, educational strains, community strains, as well as strains such as prejudice and victimization. African Americans are more likely to view these strains as unjust increasing the likelihood of negative affect, particularly anger. The present study examines the utility of TAAO and RGST to explain serious and violent offending and substance use among an economically diverse sample of youth and young adult African Americans from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods data. This work adds considerable knowledge on a unique and vital portion of the American population and their offending behaviors.

Table of Contents

Chapter One 1

An Introduction

Chapter Two 6

Race and Crime: The Statistics and Theories

Chapter Three 31

Racism and Crime: The Theory of African American Offending and Racialized General Strain Theory

Chapter Four 46


Chapter Five 60

An Empirical Assessment of the Theory of African American Offending

Chapter Six 67

An Empirical Assessment and Extension of Racialized General Strain Theory

Chapter Seven 79

DiscussionReferences 98

Appendix A: PHDCN Data Structure 141

Appendix B: ICPSR Raw Data File Organization 155

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