Shadows of Doubt: Stereotypes, Crime, and the Pursuit of Justice

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Harvard University Press, 2019 - Discrimination - 352 pages

Shadows of Doubt reveals how deeply stereotypes distort our interactions, shape crime, and deform the criminal justice system.

If you're a robber, how do you choose your victims? As a police officer, how afraid are you of the young man you're about to arrest? As a judge, do you think the suspect in front of you will show up in court if released from pretrial detention? As a juror, does the defendant seem guilty to you? Your answers may depend on the stereotypes you hold, and the stereotypes you believe others hold. In this provocative, pioneering book, economists Brendan O'Flaherty and Rajiv Sethi explore how stereotypes can shape the ways crimes unfold and how they contaminate the justice system through far more insidious, pervasive, and surprising paths than we have previously imagined.

Crime and punishment occur under extreme uncertainty. Offenders, victims, police officers, judges, and jurors make high-stakes decisions with limited information, under severe time pressure. With compelling stories and extensive data on how people act as they try to commit, prevent, or punish crimes, O'Flaherty and Sethi reveal the extent to which we rely on stereotypes as shortcuts in our decision making. Sometimes it's simple: Robbers tend to target those they stereotype as being more compliant. Other interactions display a complex and sometimes tragic interplay of assumptions: "If he thinks I'm dangerous, he might shoot. I'll shoot first."

Shadows of Doubt shows how deeply stereotypes are implicated in the most controversial criminal justice issues of our time, and how a clearer understanding of their effects can guide us toward a more just society.

 

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Shadows of Doubt: Stereotypes, Crime, and the Pursuit of Justice

User Review  - Publishers Weekly

Columbia University economics professors O’Flaherty (The Economics of Race in the United States) and Sethi offer a comprehensive argument that stereotyping infects virtually all interactions informing ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
1 Stereotypes
11
2 Crime
40
3 Robbery
51
4 Murder
63
5 Public Action
77
6 Police Stops
85
7 Use of Force
109
10 Judgment
177
11 Punishment
197
12 Justice
240
Hope
283
Notes
293
Works Cited
325
Acknowledgments
355
Index
359

8 Lethal Force
122
9 Testimony
159

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About the author (2019)

Brendan O'Flaherty is Professor of Economics at Columbia University. His books include The Economics of Race in the United States and City Economics.

Rajiv Sethi is Professor of Economics at Barnard College, Columbia University, and External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute. He has published widely on stereotypes, segregation, communication, and inequality.

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