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November 20, 2009

"What Explains Persistent Racial Disproportionality in Minnesota’s Prison and Jail Populations?"

The question in the headline of this post is the title of this important new article by Professor Richard Frase. Here is the abstract:

Racial disparity in prison and jail populations, measured by the ratio of black to white per capita incarceration rates, varies substantially from state to state.  To understand these variations, researchers must examine disparity at earlier stages of the criminal process and also racial differences in socioeconomic status that help explain disparity in cases entering the system. Researchers must adjust disparity ratios to correct for limitations in available data and in studies of prior incarceration rates.  Minnesota has one of the highest black/white incarceration ratios. Disparities at the earliest measurable stages of Minnesota’s criminal process — arrest and felony conviction — are as great as the disparity in total custody (prison plus jail) populations.  Disparities are substantially greater in prison sentences imposed and prison populations than at arrest and conviction.  The primary reason is the heavy weight sentencing guidelines give to offenders’ prior conviction records.  Highly disparate arrest rates appear to reflect unusually high rates of socioeconomic disparity between black and white residents.

November 20, 2009 at 10:02 PM | Permalink


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Highly disparate arrest rates are a function of wildly disparate racial crime rates. In New York City, blacks commit about 68% of all violent crimes although they are no more than 24% of the city's population.

Posted by: mjs | Nov 20, 2009 10:47:48 PM

Is this lawyer propaganda garbage proposing spending more on defense lawyers for black criminals as a remedy to the disparity?

1) The lawyer destroyed the black family that had survived 400 years of slavery, war, poverty and discrimination. Bastardy makes criminality soar.

2) The lawyer devalues the black crime victim, saying it is open season, and there is only the tiniest chance of any punishment.

3) The lawyer herds crime into black neighborhoods, by deterring police protection, by suing the police for doing its job.

4) The lawyer commodifies the black defendant. DA and PD sit down for lunch and decide the 30 plea bargains of the day, spending 3 minutes on each. They are friends after the job is done, and have their own silent little understandings of each other's methods and preferences.

5) The lawyer has turned black areas into criminal lifestyle communities, as Prof. Berman might choose between a golf or marina community. In those areas, crime is nearly fully immunized. You just have to make sure to not disrespect the police by committing crimes in their faces. They reserve the right to beat your ass if you disrespect them that way. Otherwise, live, totally unmolested, the full time Roman orgy lifestyle without rules or responsibility.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 20, 2009 10:49:25 PM


assuming you are correct about new york city and violent crime, most people are in prison for non-violent, drug-related crime. i have known of a lot of middle class white people who use and/or distribute drugs, and my perception is that they are astronomically less likely to be targeted, arrested, or prosecuted for violation of the drug laws than minority drug users. My own view is that this is less about overt police bias and more about looking for drugs where they are easy to find -- in poor, urban communities. But it would not surprise me at all if arrest/imprisonment for drug crimes was disproportionate to the occurrence of drug crimes, along racial lines.

Posted by: Anon | Nov 23, 2009 3:38:32 PM

I don't think so

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