Racial Profiling in the United States

Subject: Law
Pages: 7
Words: 1720
Reading time:
7 min
Study level: College


Racial profiling is a form of profiling in which the study of the behavioral characteristics of a particular subject is determined on the basis of racial and national characteristics. From the point of view of analysis, the essence of the use of such profiling is insignificant, due to the fact that, first of all, its functioning is based on prejudices and stable views that have developed in a certain a community. However, this practice is present in American forensics, as a result of which it is extremely important to identify and outline modern realities.



Closer in meaning to the racial profiling used in criminology is its particular formulation, such as the totality of certain properties and features of an object that characterize certain objects or phenomena. However, when working with this term, some lawyers or sociologists studying criminal law disciplines cannot give an exact definition of the profile and establish its connection with criminology.

In addition, it is important to note that modern American criminology today have developed a wide and rather complex structure of profiles that has features for each of the countries, some of which do not have common characteristics with each other. In this context, an attempt is made to characterize the modern classification of profiles. Analyzing the classification of existing profiles by American criminologists and social literature, it becomes clear that racial profiling is a combination of personal biological, psychological and social qualities of a person, studied with the aim of interpreting his behavior and actions.

The migration can also be a part of criminology and it can be based on race and ethnicity of individuals involved (Garner, 2015). In law enforcement practice, the following types of profiles are distinguished as criminal profiling, visual profiling, DNA profile, and location-based profiling.

This direction of racial profiling involves providing law enforcement specialists with criminal profiling with necessary information about an unknown criminal, which will help in his capture. The necessary features for using criminal profiling are the series of crimes, the commission of crimes by the same criminal, and by the same group. Seriality of crimes means the commission of two or more crimes by one and the same person, and these torts must have the same intent of the subject, similar mechanism and intent of committing crimes.

Racial Visualization

Visual racial profiling requires the knowledge of the appropriate profiler in the field of criminology, human psychology, and special care. Unlike the first type of racial profiling, visual is actively used in the system of federal crime. It is used primarily by police during mass events, and in transport. A similar mechanism to this profiling is gaining popularity for use in America, but practically unconnected with the criminological area, profiling by the type of employee danger. It is important to note the fact that the emergence of the racial profiling approach comes from Jim Crow era, when he enacted vagrancy laws (Cadore, 2015).

The approach consists in revealing by the invited psychoanalysts the deceitfulness of the statements of employees of offices, commercial firms and other organizations. The main tasks of office profiling are to prevent employees from committing offenses, to identify possible criminal features of their character, and to determine the professional burnout of employees.

Racial Profiling and Location

Location-based racial profiling is one of the latest varieties of profiling, originating from criminological geography and is used, as a rule, in conjunction with criminal profiling. The object of this method is directly the criminogenic geo-sites, that is, the places most prone to commit crimes on their territory. In another study, it is stated that the practice of racial profiling consists of a specific set of rules and assumptions regarding Black males, which further institutionalizes racism (Iverson, 2015).

Most bodily harm on the streets in large cities can occur in the vast majority in the so-called unfavorable areas of the city or city. This is due to lower levels of social control over crime, poor terrain infrastructure such as lack of lighting, and damaged roads.

Since racial profiling can be aimed at working with serial and mostly violent crimes, the task of geographic analysis is to study the places where victims were found after the crime was committed. However, another study on red light camera violations demonstrates the fact that there is a link between one’s racial identity and the disproportion in minority violations. It is important to indicate the element pf profiling is involved because the prevalence of a specific racial composition on a block (Eger, Fortner, & Slade, 2015).

This may also include the determination of their last place of residence, the locations of their possible tracking down by the offender, that is, the establishment of a geographical criminal-victimological connection. Geographic profiling is also aimed at working with a mental assessment of the geography of the offender, that is, ascertaining his location, movements in non-criminal, criminal, post-criminal periods. The main task of this type of racial profiling is to find the reason for choosing the movements of criminals, to determine their geographical categorization.

Racial Portrait

The psychological portrait of the offender should not be identified with the search portrait used exclusively in forensics, which is built solely from the visible external characteristics of the offender, which the victims and witnesses could see. The structure of the search portrait includes only the material data of the offender, such as his height, gait, and external data. It also depends only on the degree of perception and other mental processes of the person who saw him, the psychological portrait is characterized exclusively by working with an unknown criminal, establishing his mental and social characteristics, which are formed in the cognitive activities of profilers solely on experience, imagination, thinking and intuition.

Another article describes the fact that there is a dangerous form of color-blind racism in the United States, because it is manifested in highly subtle form, such as racial profiling (Bonilla-Silva, 2015). The result of a psychological portrait, as a rule, is the alleged sex, age, social status, place of residence, and the reasons for the aggressive offense. This information is only auxiliary to law enforcement agencies, which can help them in finding an unknown criminal. Officially, criminal profiling has its distribution in the FBI.

The departments can offer a wide range of services to assist law enforcement in investigating crimes. This includes analyzing the crime scene, creating profiles of unknown criminals, predicting the future behavior of the offender, including the scene of the subsequent crime, investigative recommendations, strategies, and analysis of random relationships. In addition, in cooperation with other law enforcement agencies and scientific institutions, the department’s specialists also conduct research in the investigation of crimes, thereby improving their skills and knowledge in the field of criminal profiling.

It is also stated that there is a negative Black male imagery, where the racial profiling leads to discriminatory terminology connotations (Smiley & Fakunle, 2016). Contrary to frequent judgment, criminal profiling profilers may not directly participate in the investigation of crimes and they may not participate in the detention of criminals.

Common Approaches

The function of criminal profiling is interviewing, surveys by profilers of convicted criminals. The expected results from such interviews may be the receipt of a confession from the offender, in the event that he does not confess to the crime. This also includes an indication of the whereabouts of the victims of the crime, if it is unknown and the offender did not want to release this information. It is suggested that there is an evident implicit bias and structural racism, which lead to the oppression of African American males in the United States (Wyatt-Nichol & Seabrook, 2016).

Telephone communication with criminals can be taken into account when they call their relatives or close victims for various purposes. Such a study includes many factors, such as, for example, the study of the personal motivational characteristics of criminals, the characteristics of victimology in a certain series of crimes, as well as the relationships between offenders and their victims.

Behavioral Considerations

Behavior based racial profiling is type of racial profiling is characterized by assessing and predicting the behavior of the subject of crime on the basis of certain informative signs, features of appearance and its behavior. Unlike criminal profiling, the visual is aimed at working with visible alleged offenders. First of all, such profiling involves identifying potentially dangerous individuals preparing to commit a crime with the aim of harming an unlimited circle of people. For instance, traffic stop citations are partially guided by racial profiling, which is an issue due to the factor of racism (Vito, Grossi, & Higgins, 2017).

One can distinguish such types of racial profiling as type-visual profiling – a set of external manifestations of a participant in mass behavior that is adequate to the content, place and time of a social role played by him. Race-based mass profiling that identifies individuals prone to anti-legal behavior in crowds. Also, the function of visual profiling is to identify the lies of the respondent or answering when answering questions from a profiler or police officer.

For example, the case of Trayvon Martin shows that the racial profiling is prevalent in the United States, which means that children of minority groups should be prepared for this type of discrimination (Desai, 2019). Most often, such approaches can be used in transport, train stations, stadiums, airports, concert halls. The falsehood of a potential subject is determined by specialists by analyzing its verbal and non-verbal communicative methods of communication.


In conclusion, the term racial profiling today has a broad nature of its meaning and can be based on prejudice and racism. In relation to the system, one can state the fact that only visual racial profiling is used, which is used to prevent terrorist acts and other mass crimes. In addition, the probabilistic nature of the use of profiling can be indicated. It works with intangible substances, has no logical connection and is based only on the intuition of professionals.

However, the development of racial profiling can adversely affect the investigation of many crimes, given their complexity, especially when traditional forensic methods cannot help in the investigation. In addition, the knowledge gained about the practice of criminal profiles could play a positive role in studying the behavior of criminals and, therefore, identify reserves to deter this type of crime.


Bonilla-Silva, E. (2015). The structure of racism in color-blind, “post-racial” America. American Behavioral Scientist, 59(11), 1358-1376.

Cadore, Z. (2015). Accepting the unacceptable: Judicial backing of racial profiling in America. Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, 28-31.

Desai, S. R. (2019). Humanizing Trayvon Martin: Racial profiling, implicit biases, and teacher education. Urban Education, 54(8), 1031-1057.

Eger, R. J., Fortner, C. K., & Slade, C. P. (2015). The policy of enforcement: Red light cameras and racial profiling. Police Quarterly, 18(4), 397-413.

Garner, S. (2015). Crimmigration: When criminology (nearly) met the sociology of race and ethnicity. Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, 1(1), 198-203.

Iverson, S. V. (2015). Racial profiling as institutional practice: Theorizing the experiences of Black male undergraduates. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 52(1), 28-49.

Smiley, C., & Fakunle, D. (2016). From “brute” to “thug:” The demonization and criminalization of unarmed Black male victims in America. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 26(3-4), 350-366.

Vito, A. G., Grossi, E. L., & Higgins, G. E. (2017). The issue of racial profiling in traffic stop citations. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 33(4), 431-450.

Wyatt-Nichol, H., & Seabrook, R. (2016). The ugly side of America: Institutional oppression and race. Journal of Public Management and Social Policy, 23(1), 20-46.