White criminality is increasingly defined and controlled via the medical model. This is made possible by the white racial frame, which constructs ‘whiteness’ as normative and white deviance as individual aberration or mental illness.
Conversely, the white racial frame constructs Blackness as synonymous with criminality. Media depictions of crime and criminals play a central role in furthering this framing, which provides the underlying legitimation for disparities in social control. The result is double standards of definition and control which medicalize whiteness and criminalize Blackness. This differential framing of whiteness and Blackness provides the foundation for the expansion of both the medical and prison industrial complexes, which are characterized by real racial differences despite comparable patterns of deviance across racial lines.
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By: Nancy A. Heitzega*
- a Sociology and Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity, St Catherine University, St. Paul, MN, USA
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