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Social Inequality: Race and the Criminal Legal System
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criminal justice
social problems
social inequality

How to Cite

Rochin, Nick. 2015. “Social Inequality: Race and the Criminal Legal System”. TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology, June. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.


Inequality is a broad concept that is central to the discipline of sociology and can be understood in a number of different contexts. Inequality is not simply a disparity in outcomes, such as educational attainment or income, but it is a systematic unequal distribution of rewards or life chances for different individuals within a group or groups within...

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Subject Area(s):
Introduction to Sociology/Social Problems
Resource Type(s):
Class Activity
Class Level(s):
Any Level
Class Size(s):

Usage Notes

TIME: 30-45 Minutes
This exercise can be used in courses on race, stratification, social problems, or for any discussion of inequality and the criminal legal system. Follow the hyperlinks in the source section after each table to access the pdf.

Although this activity can be used in a number of ways, it may be best applied after a lecture...

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Learning Goals and Assessments

Learning Goal(s):

  1. Students will learn that sociology as a discipline is data driven.
  2. Students will learn how to be perceptive data consumers.
  3. Students will gain a fairly comprehensive understanding of how the criminal legal apparatus interacts with communities differently on the basis of race, and the amount of data that is required to make well-informed inferences.

Goal Assessment(s):

  1. Students will be asked discuss every question in this activity in terms of the data provided.
  2. Students’ ability to consume and analyze data will be assessed through discussion questions in small groups and as a whole.
  3. Students’ ability to synthesize the various data and articulate how race affects law enforcement outcomes will be assessed in the discussion with the class as a whole.

When using resources from TRAILS, please include a clear and legible citation.

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