Race, Culture, Psychology & Law
Edited by Kimberly Holt Barrett and William H. George
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage 2005
Race has a profound impact in the justice system. Legal and psychological professionals who work with racial and ethnic minorities in the justice system need to understand the adversity of the minority groups in order to provide services that meet their needs. In this book, Barrett and George compiled an impressive set of articles addressing the racial and cultural background, the psychological and legal needs, and the history and sociopolitical circumstances of the minority individuals who pass through the justice system.
The 29 articles in the book are divided into 6 sections. The first section examines background, philosophical, and general issues characterizing the interaction of race, culture, and the American justice system. The critical issue addressed here is whether the contemporary justice system is colorblind, as some people claimed it to be, or it is burdened with modern racism. This section also discusses the challenges that the professionals face when working with minority individuals in a justice system that often does not recognize the impact of racism. The second section focuses on evaluation and assessment procedures for legal proceedings. It covers diverse subjects such as cross-cultural evaluations for the courts, the consequences of race- and ethnicity-based harassment in the workspace, cross-cultural forensic neuropsychological assessment, working with interpreters, and assessment of adults and children who seek asylum. The third section deals with immigration issues. It discusses psychological, social and legal problems that legal and illegal immigrants face in the justice system. Of particular interest is an article written by Sutapa Basu, which provides an overview of the challenges of and potential problems of the trafficking of women and children, an escalating problem that has perpetuated modern slavery throughout the world. The fourth section is devoted to problems confronting minority families and children. Asian American/Islander families, American Muslim families, and American Indian families are highlighted in this section. The authors in this section reviewed a plethora of legal, economic, and cultural factors that make minority children and families vulnerable to racial stereotype, discrimination, and domestic violence. The fifth section addresses matters related to juvenile delinquents. Using official and survey data, the authors demonstrated how racial minorities are disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice system and how young fatherhood is adversely impacted by juvenile incarceration. The last section focuses on violence victimization, particularly domestic violence and sexual violence. Cultural and ethnic factors contributing to domestic violence and sexual violence are reviewed. Cultural, psychological, and legal adversities of immigrant women are highlighted.
Race, culture, psychology and law are seldom mentioned in the same context. Through this excellent collection of articles, Barrett and George convincingly demonstrate how these factors are closely interrelated in the legal context and why it is important for psychological and legal professionals to understand the interaction of these factors when working with the minority groups in the justice system. This book is essential reading for psychologists, sociologists, and criminologists who are interested in issues of race, ethnicity, and social justice.
SPENCER DE LI
School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Florida State University