Skip to comments.Minorities, Whites Getting Similar Prison Sentences
Posted on 06/06/2002 12:12:05 PM PDT by blackbag
Study: 2:13 p.m. EDT June 6, 2002
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Minorities and whites with equal
criminal backgrounds are getting similar prison
sentences in North Carolina, according to a state
The study by the North Carolina Sentencing and Policy
Advisory Commission found that 35 percent of minority
defendants received prison time compared with
28 percent of whites with similar backgrounds.
Whites were given longer sentences on average, 36.7
months to 34.1 months for minorities with the same
The 30-member commission examined 27,015 felony cases
handled between July 1999 and June 2000 in North Carolina
The commission was created by the General Assembly in
1990 to review sentencing in the state. Its members include
judges, lawmakers, residents and law enforcement officials.
"I think what we're tapping into is sociological and
economic inequalities that continue to cause more of the
nonwhites to get caught up in the criminal justice system,"
said Susan Katzenelson, the advisory commission's executive director.
"Once they get caught up in the system
I think the system deals with them pretty even-handedly. I would say it's
The study examined trends under the state's structured
sentencing laws, which took effect in
1994. Structured sentencing eliminated parole and
uses a formula based on a defendant's criminal
record to give mandatory sentencing guidelines to
"In other words, the legislature basically has taken
over criminal sentencing, and there is little room
for individual variation," Guilford Superior Court
Judge Douglas Albright said. "That's been an effort to address disparity."
David Dansby, president of the National Association for
the Advancement of Colored People in Greensboro,
said the findings are misleading because many
minorities are unfairly targeted by law enforcement.
In both 1970 and 2000, blacks made up 22 percent of the
state's population. The percentage of black inmates
in North Carolina rose from 53 percent to 61 percent
during that time, according to the 2000 Census.
Whites were given longer sentences on average, 36.7 months to 34.1 months for minorities with the same criminal history.
Interesting what is considered "a difference" and what is considered "about equal."
For instance, they are saying that 7% more minorities than whites are getting sentenced, and thus they are "more likely to get caught up in the judicial system." The point being that 7% is apparently a sizable number.
However, if we convert the months they are sentenced into a percentage rate by muliplying the numbers by 2.72... the difference in months between 36.7 and 34.1 is a difference of 7.072%, and that is considered "equitable."
In other words, If whites are serving 7% more time, that is "equitable." If minorities are sentenced 7% more, that is "not equitable." Now why should this be?
Given assumed lower socio economic status, i would say that blacks, by percentage may commit more crimes.
If you concede the second fact - and it's not necessary to speculate about it; reams of data substantiate it - then what's your beef with the first?
"I think what we're tapping into is sociological and economic inequalities that continue to cause more of the nonwhites to get caught up in the criminal justice system," said Susan Katzenelson, the advisory commission's executive director. "Once they get caught up in the system I think the system deals with them pretty even-handedly. I would say it's encouraging."
Ms. Katzenelson is saying that "more nonwhites get caught up in the criminal justice system." That is the 35% vs 28% statistic she is referring to. More are sentenced. 7% is perceived here as substantially MORE. Then when they talk about the actual prison system, it's referred to as "equitable" even though the whites are serving 7% longer sentences.
My point is that 7% is treated as a substantial difference when it suits their purposes and as an inconsequential number when that, instead, serves their purposes.
But, but, but...that would be intellectualy DISHONEST!
The only reason you could possibly have for mentioning this must be because you are like, uh, some RACIST or something!
And isn't the fact that you would post something like this blatant HATE SPEECH?
You better watch yourself, bub.
People of color have suffered years of oppression by the white hegemony!
Corporations exploit the working class!
Patriarchy equals violence!
....uhm.... uhm ... uhm.... SAVE THE SPOTTED OWL!!
(-: Whew! That was close.