In this Note, the Author asserts that, although Massachusetts courts never formally acknowledged white privilege, Commonwealth v. Vassell (HSCR 2008-00056) illustrates that white privilege plays a very real role in the administration of criminal laws and contributes to many instances of selective enforcement. Specifically in the context of selective enforcement claims, courts focus on whether people of color are arrested or prosecuted for belonging to a racial minority group (a result of racism) rather than on whether people evade arrest or prosecution for being white (a result of white privilege). This Note examines the development of the law of selective enforcement in Massachusetts and explores the concept of white privilege and the role it played in Vassell. The Author contends that the courts cannot effectively address instances of racial injustice in the enforcement of criminal laws until the law of selective enforcement incorporates white privilege into its formal legal doctrine. To this end, this Note proposes language modifying the Massachusetts law of selective enforcement to account for white privilege.
Mara Shulman Ryan, CRIMINAL LAW--INVISIBLE IN THE COURTROOM TOO: MODIFYING THE LAW OF SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT TO ACCOUNT FOR WHITE PRIVILEGE, 34 W. New Eng. L. Rev. 301 (2012), https://digitalcommons.law.wne.edu/lawreview/vol34/iss1/9