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January 17, 2011

Is there less discussion of race and criminal justice since Obama's election?

Long-time readers may recall that I generally make a habit of honoring Dr. Martin Luther King's Day by encouraging everyone to reflect on the historic and modern intersection of racial issues and criminal justice realities.  I do so again today first by providing links to some prior MLK Day posts and other related posts on this issue here:

Yet, as the question in the title to this post highlights, I am today wondering if the election of the first non-white President in the United States has, ironically, served to diminish the amount of vocal public discussion of the intersection of race and the modern administration of criminal justice systems. 

It is my impression that there are fewer reports coming from public policy groups and others interested in criminal justice reforms that are focused on racial issues and racial disparities.  I have no hard data to back up this impression, and many groups continue to note racial disparities in prison populations and in the application of the death penalty.  Nevertheless, it still seems the spotlight in not on race quite as much as it has been in the past.  (Relatedly, I am troubled that few groups are actively assailing the racial impact of the Justice Department's effort to keep the old crack laws applicable for as long as possible.)  Could it be that despite (or even because of) new diversity in the Oval Office and at the head of DOJ, we are actually less eager and less able to talk about race and criminal justice in recent years? 

January 17, 2011 at 04:09 PM | Permalink

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Comments

The race industry canard that high black incarceration rates are the result of a biased legal system has been largely discredited. Wildly disparate racial crime rates are a fact. In New York City, blacks commit about 68 percent of all violent crimes yet represent no more than 24 percent of the city's population.

National statitics also support the reality that high incarceration rates for blacks are a function of crime, not racism.

Posted by: mjs | Jan 17, 2011 5:37:56 PM

MJS, I mostly agree with regard to stats on violent crime, but not for the drug war, where all evidence shows drug use at roughly the same levels among the races (and that most drug users buy drugs from dealers of the same race), but blacks are much more frequently prosecuted and convicted for drug offenses.

Also, if you really want to talk about racial disparities, compare the proportion of DNA exonerees by race to the prison population and you'll also find black folks overrepresented. It's not just an either-or deal.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Jan 18, 2011 11:02:01 AM

I think you are right when you say this. Hats off man, what a superlative knowledge you have on this subject…hope to see more work of yours.

Posted by: Health Blog | Jan 26, 2011 8:12:24 AM

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