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In order to understand racial profiling, it must first be correctly defined. Although different authors use different criteria for the term racial profiling, Merriam-Webster’s definition for the word racial is “of, relating to, or based on a race (Merriam-Webster, 2006; p.855).” The definition the dictionary puts forth for profiling is “the act of suspecting or targeting a person solely on the basis of observed characteristics or behavior (Merriam-Webster, 2006; p.830).” Based on these definitions, racial profiling could be defined for criminal justice purposes as targeting a person based solely on the characteristic of race. Most people, law enforcement officers included, would consider racial profiling based on this definition as ethically wrong. However, a case must be made for the use of profiling based on race in some circumstances.
Critics claim that racial profiling has no place within the justice system because it targets minorities who are not necessarily doing anything illegal. They argue that the evidence that shows that racial profiling as a successful tool in the law …