Resource: Controlling Racially Discriminatory Law Enforcement Through Institutional Reform Litigation

By: Name Redacted

May 19, 2000

This paper examines the controversy over racial profiling by police in the United States through a case study of Wilkins v. Maryland State Police--No. MJG-93468 (D.MD., filed 1993). This case study also covers NAACP v. Maryland State Police,--No. CCB-98-1098 (D.MD., filed 1998)--litigation with different plaintiffs, but covering the same actions by the Maryland State Police, largely relying on data developed as result of the settlement of Wilkins to prove discriminatory practices and run by the same attorney. This paper is designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the settlement in Wilkins in light of the overall social problem of racial profiling and the challenges of institutional reform litigation. The first section of this paper will discuss the general problem of racially discriminatory law enforcement, with a focus on the common practice of racial profiling. The second, and primary, section of this paper will present the factual and legal circumstances surrounding Wilkins and reach the core thesis of the paper, which is that the settlement agreement was less successful than the plaintiffs expected due to a weak agreement created by an unbalanced negotiation effort. The third section will aim to find the combination of litigation and legislative reform efforts that will be most likely to curtail the natural police tendencies toward racial profiling. The final section of this paper will examine Wilkins and other profiling litigation in the larger context of institutional reform litigation generally.

Resource Type(s):

Case Studies

Institution: Harvard

Related Cases:

Wilkins v. Maryland State Police