Pioneers of Diversity in Criminal Justice Professions


Application: Pioneers of Diversity in Criminal Justice Professions

Jackie Robinson is one of the most famous historical figures who challenged racial segregation in the late 1940s. Robinson broke the race barrier in Major League Baseball when he became the first black man to play for a team in the previously whites-only league.

Robinson was not the only individual to challenge segregation and push for greater representation of minority groups in professional arenas. In criminal justice professions, many individuals have acted as “pioneers,” breaking racial and ethnic barriers and pushing for greater equality. In 2009, Sonja Sotomayor became the first Hispanic justice for the Supreme Court of the United States. Sotomayor started her legal career as an assistant district attorney in New York. She overcame many challenges related to her ethnicity to advance in her career and end up on the Supreme Court. Sotomayor opened the door not only for Hispanics, but also for women, as she is only the third female justice for the Supreme Court.

For this Assignment, search for and select an individual who broke racial and ethnic barriers in the field of criminal justice. Consider his or her role in the criminal justice system and any discrimination and challenges he or she may have encountered in that role.

The Assignment (2–3 pages):

  • Explain the role of the individual you selected in the criminal justice system.
  • Explain various forms of discrimination and any challenges the individual encountered based on his or her race or ethnicity.
  • Explain how the individual’s experience might be different if he or she were in the same role today. If the individual has broken a barrier recently, discuss how the experience might have been different in the past.
  • Explain at least two challenges the individual might face in that role today.


  • Course Text: Investigating Difference: Human and Cultural Relations in Criminal Justice
    • Chapter 7, “Exclusion, Inclusion, and Violence: Immigrants and Criminal Justice”
    • Chapter 11, “Women’s Difference in the Criminal Justice System: Constructions of Victims, Offenders, and Workers”
    • Chapter 22, “Reinvestigating Difference”
  • Article: Jordan, W. T., Fridell, L., Faggiani, D., & Kubu, B. (2009). Attracting females and racial/ethnic minorities to law enforcement. Journal of Criminal Justice37(4), 333–341.
    Retrieved from the Walden Library using the ScienceDirect database.
  • Article: O’Neill, M., & Holdaway, S. (2007). Examining “window dressing”: Rhe views of black police associations on recruitment and training. Journal of Ethnic & Migration Studies33, 483–500.
    Retrieved from the Walden Library using the Academic Search Complete database.
  • Article: Thompson, R. A. (2006). Black skin—Brass shields: Assessing the presumed marginalization of black law enforcement executives. American Journal of Criminal Justice30(2), 163–177.
    Retrieved from the Walden Library using the SocINDEX with Full Text database.
  • Article: White, M. D. (2008). Identifying good cops early: Predicting recruit performance in the academy. Police Quarterly11(1), 27–49.
    Retrieved from the Walden Library using the Sage Premier 2012 database.
  • Article: White, M. D., Cooper, J. A., Saunders, J., & Raganella, A. J. (2010). Motivations for becoming a police officer: Re-assessing officer attitudes and job satisfaction after six years on the street. Journal of Criminal Justice, 38, 520–530.
    Retrieved from the Walden Library using the ScienceDirect database.

Optional Resources

  • Article: Stokes, L. D., & Scott, J. F. (1996). Affirmative action and selected minority groups in law enforcement. Journal of Criminal Justice, 24(1), 29–38.
  • Article: Tartaro, C., & Krimmel, J. T. (2003). The effect of race on criminal justice students’ career choices. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 28(1), 109–124.
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