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Importance of Research on Race, Crime and Punishment - Keynote Address by Lawrence Bobo

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2011
7 pages

This video and its transcript cover the keynote address at the 2011 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Conference by Lawrence Bobo of Harvard University, in which his main message is the importance of continuing research and policy-based efforts necessary to break the nexus of race, crime, and punishment that persists in the criminal justice system's effort to counter criminal behavior.


He notes that this emphasis is particularly important because the majority of the White population and one-third of the African-American population believe that America is essentially an egalitarian society. The rise of mass incarceration of those who are convicted of breaking the law has significantly impacted predominantly African-American neighborhoods. One in 15 Black men are in jail or prison; and between the ages of 20 and 34, this figure rises to one in nine. This address emphasizes that racialized mass incarceration is a product of the interplay of key economic, political, and cultural factors. The summary conclusion is as follows: "The intensification of patterns of relative joblessness, poverty, family breakdown, and poor schooling in many urban Black communities, on the one hand, coincided or combined with the number of other legal and policy changes involved with the punitive turn in the criminal justice system to bring us where we are today."

Date Published: June 1, 2011