ethnocentric | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Multicultural Justice

In the criminal justice context, ethnocentric refers to a tendency to view the world, including crime and criminal justice issues, primarily from the perspective of one’s own ethnic or cultural group. This can lead to a bias in how crime and criminal justice issues are perceived, understood, and addressed.

An ethnocentric perspective can manifest in various ways in the criminal justice system. For example, law enforcement officers may be more likely to target and arrest people from certain ethnic or cultural groups, or prosecutors may be more likely to charge or sentence people from those groups more harshly.

Similarly, ethnocentric biases can affect how victims of crime are treated. For instance, victims from certain ethnic or cultural groups may be less likely to receive assistance from the criminal justice system or may be more likely to be blamed for the crime committed against them.

Ethnocentric bias can also affect jury selection. If the jury pool is not representative of the community, it can lead to a jury that is not unbiased, which can affect the outcome of the trial.

It’s important to note that ethnocentric bias can be present at any stage of the criminal justice system, and it can be directed against any ethnic or cultural group. It can also be unconscious and unintentional, but it can lead to unequal treatment of different groups in the criminal justice system.

One way to combat ethnocentric bias in the criminal justice system is through training and education for law enforcement officials, judges, prosecutors, and other criminal justice professionals. This can help them to recognize and address their own biases and to work to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and equitably in the criminal justice system.

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Last Modified: 01/09/2023


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