Skip to comments.Five Myths of the 'Racist' Criminal Justice System
Posted on 04/19/2012 11:31:53 AM PDT by Kaslin
Calling America's criminal justice system "racist" is not confined to "civil rights leaders" like the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Then-Sen. Barack Obama, during the 2008 presidential campaign, said it, too. Blacks and whites, said Obama, "are arrested at very different rates, are convicted at very different rates (and) receive very different sentences ... for the same crime."
When the man who became president of the United States says this -- the No. 1 law enforcement officer -- it must, therefore, be true.
Let's examine five major assumptions behind this assertion.
1) Blacks are arrested at higher rates compared to whites -- but wrongly so.
Not true. While only 13 percent of the population, blacks accounted for 28 percent of nationwide arrests in 2010 and 38.1 percent of arrests for violent crime (murders, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault). But are they unfairly arrested? Studies find that arrest rates by race are comparable to the race of suspect identification by victims.
For example, in a given city, x number of robbery victims describe their assailants as black -- whether or not the suspect has been apprehended. It turns out that the race of those arrested matches the percentage given by victims. This has been found repeatedly across the country, in all categories of crime where the race of an assailant is identified. So unless the victims are deliberately misidentifying their assailants -- unconcerned about whether the suspect is apprehended and knowingly give a false race -- blacks are not being "over-arrested."
2) Blacks are convicted at higher rates and given longer sentences than whites for the same crime.
Not true. Differences in conviction and sentencing rates by race are due to differences in the gravity of the criminal offenses, prior records or other legal variables. A 1994 Justice Department survey of felony cases in the country's 75 largest urban areas actually found lower felony prosecution rates for blacks than whites and that blacks were less likely to be found guilty at trial.
3) The sentence disparity between powder and crack cocaine is racist and accounts for a large percentage of imprisoned blacks.
Not true. Concerned about the deadly effect of crack within their own communities, black members of Congress led the charge to pass the 1986 federal drug laws. The bill that was passed -- which included the crack/powder sentencing disparity -- did so with the support of the majority of black congresspersons. None at the time objected to the sentencing disparity as "racist."
In 2006, the feds tried 5,619 crack sellers, and 4,495 of them were black -- out of the 562,000 blacks in state and federal prisons at the end of that year. Add in county and city jails, and the figure rises to 858,000. And states' crack cocaine laws are not the culprits. Only 13 states employ differing sentencing guidelines for crack vs. powder -- and their differential is much smaller than that of the feds.
4) The "War on Drugs" accounts for a large number of blacks behind bars.
Not true. In 2010, blacks were 31.8 percent of all arrests for drug crimes. But arrests for drug offenses are only 12.4 percent of all non-traffic arrests in the country and accounted for 14.2 percent of the offenses for which blacks were arrested.
5) More blacks are in jail than in college.
Not true. "More blacks (are) in jail than college, in every state," said Jesse Jackson in 2007. That same year, presidential candidate Sen. Obama, echoed: "More young black men languish in prison than attend colleges and universities across America."
If Jackson and Obama refer to black men of the usual college-age years, their claim is not even remotely true. The Washington Post "Fact Checker" wrote: "According to 2005 Census Bureau statistics, the male African-American population of the United States aged between 18 and 24 numbered 1,896,000. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 106,000 African-Americans in this age group were in federal or state prisons at the end of 2005. ... If you add the numbers in local jail (measured in mid-2006), you arrive at a grand total of 193,000 incarcerated young black males, or slightly over 10 percent.
"According to the same census data, 530,000 of these African-American males, or 28 percent, were enrolled in colleges or universities ... in 2005. That is five times the number of young black men in federal and state prisons and two and a half times the total number incarcerated. If you expanded the age group to include African-American males up to 30 or 35, the college attendees would still outnumber the prisoners."
Racism against blacks exists, but it is no longer a meaningful obstacle to success. People are not angels. Some people are rotten. Humans make mistakes -- and always will. But the facts do not show a "racist criminal justice system."
There may be votes in teaching people to think like victicrats. But the problem of the high rates of black imprisonment will not be solved by falsely screaming racism.
And all along the way, from the police officiers, to the lawyers, to the jurors, etc. are ordinary individuals. People who have their outlooks in life, etc., yet try to be as impartial as possible.
So, I believe, a heightened awareness of race should always be kept to the forefront because people are bias.
I'll give you an example. Through the years, I've worked with a number of blue collar white folks. And back in the old days, meaning the 1980's, things weren't so politically incorrect to talk about as they are today. I always noticed those folks commonly talked about the crack houses in the inner cities, but failed ever to mention about the meth labs in rural America. No big deal, and not a sign of overt racism, but nonetheless, it revealed to me how these folks were so willing to talk about the negatives of another group of individuals, but not of their own.
And this is just one of many examples I could give you. Its not overt racism, per se. But it shows people tend to be partial. And this partiality works its way through, when one sits on a juror, or elects a judge, etc. There are some people I've met through the years, who are good people, but I would not trust them sitting on a jury if I was falsely accused of murder.
People are much more partial than you may think. That's why lawyers work hard to screen potential jurors.
And if I could point to one well known case that points to people's partiality (both by black and whites, but, really, it applies to all races), is the OJ Simpson case. Never has there been a case that has polarized the races.
(The bit about the penitentiaries starts at 0:45. Needless to say, since it's Richard Pryor, the language is not pristine.)
You are welcome
A good Townhall read. Nice change of pace.
One reason for the disparity in ‘talk’ in crack vs. meth lab dealers is that the rural population NEVER gets the same amount of attention as city crime because there are no major media in “fly over country”. Most people are aware of urban poverty but no NOTHING about how poverty stricken whites live because they’re “out in the sticks”.
One reason for the disparity in ‘talk’ in crack vs. meth lab dealers is that the rural population NEVER gets the same amount of attention as city crime because there are no major media in “fly over country”. Most people are aware of urban poverty but know NOTHING about how poverty stricken whites live because they’re “out in the sticks”.
There is an excellent movie called winters bone that actually showcases poverty in arkansas and the drug pushers there I think it’s in the ozarks or something like that...great movie
While media attention does play a part in blue collar people talking more about the crack houses, I do believe, that the primary reason is the bias. In other words, it is easier to talk about or focus on the negatives of others than ourselves. Its human nature.
That's why its important to make sure all avenues of partialities are addressed in areas of the judicial system.
I believe, it has gotten better. Many trials ensure minority members serve on jury. And through the years, there have been more focus by the media.
More improvements needs to be made. For example, more minorities need to step up to the plate and become police officers. And to become layers and run for District Attorney or even run for judges. There aren't enough minority judges. The entire legal profession and law enforcement is probably the least diverse environemtn. Only the jury selection process has a good representation.
Even in the inner cities, most of the police officers are white. Minorities need to step up to a point where there can be black police officers in rural cities.
I would like to even see a black President someday..... oh, wait....we're already there ;) .... to the shagrin of many :)
Part of the problem is that the black % of the population is around 14%, so just how do you ensure there are “enough” black officers, judges, lawyers, etc? We’ve been down this road before....If blacks either aren’t interested in those positions or can’t get a degree required to get them, how is that to be remedied?
In times of war, how does the military get people to sign on the dotted line? They recruit. Why not recruit in black high schools, black colleges, etc. I'm talking about police and law enforcement work, of course.
But as an educational goal, the legal profession can be peddled more in minority communities and high school and colleges. And stress the importance of getting more minorities into the legal profession.
I admit, though, it has to come from within. It would be difficult for white recruiters to show enthusiasm about helping minority young people to get into the legal profession and law enforcement. So, minorities have to recruit their own and push their into these types of professions.
It is a bit of a dilemma.
Recruitment is being used and has been for at least 15 years.
The reason why I stress recruitment and enhancing them, is that during times of war, with financial incentives, the military has not had a problem with a lack of minorities signing up.
In the long run, we may always have a greater representation of white police officers. But I still feel greater recruitment should still be maintained. And media vigilance always kept up against bias of all types.