The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice


It is illegal for Texas law enforcement agencies to racially profile people. However, Texas continues to deal with racial profiling among law enforcement officers. This article concerns the right to travel, unmolested by state action based upon race or ethnicity. Since passing the Fourteenth Amendment and its Equal Protection Clause, our legal system under-includes, and outright excludes, certain groups of people from its promise. Such racial disparities have lived in the United States Constitution since the authors drafted the three-fifths compromise at its inception. When considering the criminality of a group of people and the overpopulation in state prisons, many people fail to consider other factors outside of race. An unjust society reflects any society that blindly ignores other factors which constitute guilt while condemning the innocent for the sake of supposed safety. Search and hit rates for African Americans and Hispanics are disproportionate to those for White persons. Law enforcement officers search Black and Hispanic persons significantly more than White individuals, but the hit rate for discovering contraband is significantly higher for White individuals than Black or Hispanic people. Data collection of this kind is a step in the right direction to fixing the problem. Texas could vastly improve its data for recording probable cause of a search. Additionally, documenting consent to search in writing might solve this issue. Too much authority rests in local Texas law enforcement agencies as to whether they even collect data at all. Lastly, law enforcement must address the cultural issues in their recruitment and training. Training law enforcement officials to racially profile further exacerbates the issue.

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St. Mary's University School of Law