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Criminal Justice Through “Colorblind” Lenses: A Call to Examine the Mutual Constitution of Race and Criminal Justice

  • Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve and Lauren Mayes


A central paradox defines the scholarship of criminal justice and race: while racial disparities manifest throughout the criminal justice system, it is often portrayed as race‐neutral. We identify two central paradigm shifts: one in penology (that focuses on risk) and one in racial ideology (that focuses on colorblindness) that create a perfect storm; criminal justice apparatuses produce an illusion of racial neutrality while exacerbating racial disproportionality. We join an expanding list of scholars encouraging discourse that engages critical race theory on an empirical level and import this approach to the consideration of race within the criminal justice system. We identify issues with the conceptualization and operationalization of race as a variable within criminal justice research and recommend that scholars consider the mutual constitution of race and criminal justice. That is, scholarship must examine and empirically measure how race and criminal justice institutions actively form and inform each other.



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Criminal Justice Through “Colorblind” Lenses: A Call to Examine the Mutual Constitution of Race and Criminal Justice

  • Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve and Lauren Mayes


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