College criminology courses cover ‘implicit bias’ in wake of police shootings

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2016/12/05/college-criminology-courses-cover-implicit-bias-in-wake-of-police-shootings/

DCNF

Professors across the country are rewriting college course work in criminal justice under the assumption that shootings of blacks are simply a result of police racism. These courses often rely on shaky science that isn’t consistent and has been widely critiqued, what they call “implicit bias” training.

Professor Cory Haberman at the University of Cincinnati recently added implicit bias as a topic in a graduate seminar on criminal justice.

The class contains a unit on “Race and Crime,” where the class focuses on the “racial dis-proportionality across all criminal justice outcomes, ” Haberman told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The class examines possible explanations for this disproportionality, by looking at implicit bias and other theories, he told The DCNF. The seminar discusses implicit bias and also studies Harvard’s Implicit Association Test (IAT), a test that claims to measure a person’s biases against minority races.

Despite the test’s popularity, several critical studies have exposed weaknesses within the test.

Some of the test’s creators admitted that it does not accurately predict if someone will react on their supposed biases. Another study found that people who usually have high “implicit bias scores” turned out to treat black people more favorably.

One study found that 48 percent of black people who took the test were more favorable towards white people, essentially that they were supposedly racist against their own race.

Implicit bias training, a program the Obama administration has championed, may not work either. One study revealed that after undergoing the training, people returned to their “implicit preferences” within a matter of hours or days. Other studies point to the fact that racial bias may not play a role in police shootings.

A study from a Harvard professor did not find evidence of racial bias in police shootings. The study concluded black people are, however, more likely to be handcuffed, pepper sprayed or pushed to the ground by an officer.

In addition to teaching about implicit bias, some colleges are trying to teach future officers how to empathize with incarcerated people.

University of California, Irvine, is in the process of considering a course that would instruct future officers how to sympathize with those who have been arrested.

The college is also considering a course that would emphasize the experiences of people who have been jailed, a criminology professor at the university explained. The course would deal with how it feels to be in jail and how to get bail.

“The purpose is to give cops perhaps a little more empathy in their discretionary decisions: You could arrest this person, or you could not arrest this person, but what will it mean?” Teresa Dalton, a criminology professor, said.

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