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May 22, 2019

Spotlighting racial divides in perceptions of crime and punishment

Just about every serious study of US criminal justice systems shows a different form of justice applies to black and white Americans.  And John Gramlich at Pew Research Center has this interesting new piece spotlighting many of the different perceptions of justice among black and white Americans.  I recommend the piece in full, and here are excerpts with a sentencing emphasis  (and with links from the original):

Black Americans are far more likely than whites to say the nation’s criminal justice system is racially biased and that its treatment of minorities is a serious national problem.  In a recent Pew Research Center survey, around nine-in-ten black adults (87%) said blacks are generally treated less fairly by the criminal justice system than whites, a view shared by a much smaller majority of white adults (61%).  And in a survey shortly before last year’s midterm elections, 79% of blacks — compared with 32% of whites — said the way racial and ethnic minorities are treated by the criminal justice system is a very big problem in the United States today.

Racial differences in views of the criminal justice system are not limited to the perceived fairness of the system as a whole.  Black and white adults also differ across a range of other criminal justice-related questions asked by the Center in recent years, on subjects ranging from crime and policing to the use of computer algorithms in parole decisions....

A narrow majority of Americans (54%) support the death penalty for people convicted of murder, according to a spring 2018 survey.  But only around a third of blacks (36%) support capital punishment for this crime, compared with nearly six-in-ten whites (59%).  Racial divisions extend to other questions related to the use of capital punishment.  In a 2015 survey, 77% of blacks said minorities are more likely than whites to be sentenced to death for committing similar crimes.  Whites were divided on this question: 46% said minorities are disproportionately sentenced to death, while the same percentage saw no racial disparities.

Blacks were also more likely than whites to say capital punishment is not a crime deterrent (75% vs. 60%) and were less likely to say the death penalty is morally justified (46% vs. 69%).  However, about seven-in-ten in both groups said they saw some risk in putting an innocent person to death (74% of blacks vs. 70% of whites)....

Some states now use criminal risk assessments to assist with parole decisions. These assessments involve collecting data about people who are up for parole, comparing that data with data about other people who have been convicted of crimes, and then assigning inmates a score to help decide whether they should be released from prison or not.  A 2018 survey asked Americans whether they felt the use of criminal risk assessments in parole decisions was an acceptable use of algorithmic decision-making. A 61% majority of black adults said using these assessments is unfair to people in parole hearings, compared with 49% of white adults.

May 22, 2019 at 10:05 AM | Permalink

Comments

Doug:

I read the entire article, as you recommended.

Most of it is based upon perception.

I suspect that most of that is driven by media reporting.

If the media reported these types of studies, often, that perception might change.

I, also, recommend reading the entire article.

Race, ethnicity and crime statistics.

For the White–Black comparisons, the Black level is 12.7 times greater than the White level for homicide, 15.6 times greater for robbery, 6.7 times greater for rape, and 4.5 times greater for aggravated assault.

For the Hispanic- White comparison, the Hispanic level is 4.0 times greater than the White level for homicide, 3.8 times greater for robbery, 2.8 times greater for rape, and 2.3 times greater for aggravated assault.

For the Hispanic–Black comparison, the Black level is 3.1 times greater than the Hispanic level for homicide, 4.1 times greater for robbery, 2.4 times greater for rape, and 1.9 times greater for aggravated assault.

"Recent studies suggest a decline in the relative Black effect on violent crime in recent decades and interpret this decline as resulting from greater upward mobility among African Americans during the past several decades."

"However, other assessments of racial stratification in American society suggest at least as much durability as change in Black social mobility since the 1980s."

When correcting for the Hispanic effect:

"Results suggest that little overall change has occurred in the Black share of violent offending in both UCR and NCVS estimates during the last 30 years."

From

REASSESSING TRENDS IN BLACK VIOLENT CRIME, 1980.2008: SORTING OUT THE "HISPANIC EFFECT" IN UNIFORM CRIME REPORTS ARRESTS, NATIONAL CRIME VICTIMIZATION SURVEY OFFENDER ESTIMATES, AND U.S. PRISONER COUNTS, See pages 208-209, FN 5, DARRELL STEFFENSMEIER, BEN FELDMEYER, CASEY T. HARRIS, JEFFERY T. ULMER, Criminology, Volume 49, Issue 1, Article first published online: 24 FEB 2011 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1745-9125.2010.00222.x/pdf


Posted by: Dudley Sharp | May 25, 2019 4:54:29 AM

Prisons, race, ethnicity, drugs and crime

Crime rates rise dramatically

Nearly, every year, from 1960 to 1992, violent crimes rose, a near straight line growth whereby violent crime was 7 times higher (288, 460 vs 1,932,270) and property crimes 4 times (3 million vs 12 million) . . .

Both of which have well known drug components . . .

Minority communities were crying out for more police and incarceration protection. Why, particularly, minority communities?

Race, ethnicity and crime statistics.

While drug use is similar between white and some minority communities, violent crime is much higher in some minority communities, which dictates where police protection is most needed and wanted, OBVIOUS, as detailed:

For the White–Black comparisons, the Black level is 12.7 times greater than the White level for homicide, 15.6 times greater for robbery, 6.7 times greater for rape, and 4.5 times greater for aggravated assault (1)

For the Hispanic- White comparison, the Hispanic level is 4.0 times greater than the White level for homicide, 3.8 times greater for robbery, 2.8 times greater for rape, and 2.3 times greater for aggravated assault (1)

For the Hispanic–Black comparison, the Black level is 3.1 times greater than the Hispanic level for homicide, 4.1 times greater for robbery, 2.4 times greater for rape, and 1.9 times greater for aggravated assault (1)

(NOTE: Asian Americans are not included because it is a minority with extremely low crime rates)

AS AN IRON CLAD RULE POLICE WILL ALWAYS CONCENTRATE ON THE MORE VIOLENT AREAS, AS WE WANT THEM TO - IF THEY DIDN'T THEY WOULD BE ACCUSED OF RACISM - OBVIOUS.

Prison beds increased

There were 200,000 prison beds from 1948-1976, and then, by 1980 it was 400,000, about 700,000 in 1990s and then about 2.1 million by 2009, for obvious reasons, growing with crime rates.

It can take from 5-8 years, from planning to occupancy, for a new, major prison.

Crimes decreased

Both violent and property crimes, dropped, dramatically, in near straight line, and were 1,186,185 and 8,209,010, respectively, in 2014 (1a).

On a per capita, crime rate basis, violent crimes were 758 in 1992, 372 in 2014 - reduced by more than 2 times and property crimes were 4,903 in 1992 and 2,574 in 2014 - reduced by almost 2 times (1a)

Recidivism

Within 5 years of release (2005-2010), 82.1% of property offenders were arrested for a new crime, compared to 76.9% of drug offenders, 73.6% of public order offenders, and 71.3% of violent offenders (2).

94% percent of state prisoners in 1991 had committed a violent crime or been incarcerated or on probation before. Of these prisoners, 45 percent had committed their latest crimes while free on probation or parole. When "supervised" on the streets, they inflicted at least 218,000 violent crimes, including 13,200 murders and 11,600 rapes (more than half of the rapes against children) (3).

Patrick A. Langan, senior statistician at the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics, calculated that tripling the prison population from 1975 to 1989 may have reduced "violent crime by 10 to 15 percent below what it would have been," thereby preventing a "conservatively estimated 390,000 murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults in 1989 alone." (3).

Smart on Crime

" . . . Department of Justice policies since the 1980s directed federal prosecutors to charge the most serious readily provable offense, unless justice required otherwise. It’s undisputed that this charging practice, applied over the course of several Republican and Democratic administrations in recent decades, contributed to the reduction of violent crime by half between 1991 and 2014." (4)

"The Obama administration’s “Smart on Crime” initiative – touted by former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates in a recent oped in the Washington Post titled “Making America scared again won’t make us safer” – undermined those hard-fought gains in public safety, and ushered in significant increases in violent crime. In 2015, violent crime rose 5.6 percent—the greatest increase since 1991—and included a shocking 10.8 percent increase in homicide rates." (4)

"The reduced charging and sentencing of thousands of drug traffickers and their early release from prison -all hallmarks of the Holder-Yates ("Smart on Crime") policies of the Obama years – have begun to leave their devastating mark downstream on the safety of communities across the nation. The surge in violent crime should not be surprising. Drug trafficking by its very nature, is a violent crime." (4)

Reality: Drug Cases

15% of prisoners had a drug offense as the most serious crime (5). 15%.

For non trafficking drug offenses, 51% pled to a felony, 8% to a misdemeanor, 27% dismissed, 13% other disposition - non went to trial.

Indicating that about 50% of those will be able to clean their record upon successful completion of their sentences, I bet many, if not most, of those incarcerated, had had multiple, prior infractions.

It would be interesting to find out, how many of those drug cases pled down from more serious charges, inclusive of violent crimes and possession of a firearm. At least 95% of drug cases are the result of a plea.

======

1)REASSESSING TRENDS IN BLACK VIOLENT CRIME, 1980.2008: SORTING OUT THE "HISPANIC EFFECT" IN UNIFORM CRIME REPORTS ARRESTS, NATIONAL CRIME VICTIMIZATION SURVEY OFFENDER ESTIMATES, AND U.S. PRISONER COUNTS, See pages 208-209, FN 5, DARRELL STEFFENSMEIER, BEN FELDMEYER, CASEY T. HARRIS, JEFFERY T. ULMER, Criminology, Volume 49, Issue 1, Article first published online: 24 FEB 2011 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1745-9125.2010.00222.x/pdf

1a) United States Crime Rates 1960-2017
http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm


2) Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010, Bureau of Justice Statistics, http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=4986

3) "Prisons are a Bargain, by Any Measure", John J. DiIulio, Jr., Opinion, New York Times, 1/16/1996

4) "Law Enforcement leaders: How smart was Obama's 'Smart on Crime' initiative? Not very", Lawrence J. Leiser, president National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys. Nathan Catura, president, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. Bob Bushman, president National Narcotics Officers’ Associations’ Coalition. Al Regnery, chairman, Law Enforcement Action Network. Ron Hosko president, Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund. Harold Eavenson, President, National Sheriffs’ Association. Larry Langberg.President, Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI, Fox News Opinion, July 5, 2017

5) p 15, Offense Characteristics of State Prisoners, Prisoners in 2017 Jennifer Bronson, Ph.D., and E. Ann Carson, Ph.D., BJS Statisticians, April, 2019
https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p17.pdf

6) See Table 21, pg 24,Felony Defendants in Large Urban Counties, 2009 - Statistical Tables | December 2013 https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fdluc09.pdf

Posted by: Dudley Sharp | May 25, 2019 5:04:40 AM

Lots and lots reprinted here, Dudley, and too much to effectively engage in this space. I agree that there is huge difference in how black and whites perceive law enforcement and the CJ system. And that reality itself should concern us, as Tom Tyler's work and others' show that willingness to follow the law is based in significant part on its PERCEIVED legitimacy. As I have discussed in a few posts in this space, I think the bump up in crime after 2014 had a lot to do with high-profile police shootings that diminished perceived legitimacy. In any event, I recommend Rachel Barkow's new book, Prisoners of Politics, for a different way to look at established data. https://www.amazon.com/Prisoners-Politics-Breaking-Cycle-Incarceration/dp/0674919238

Posted by: Doug B | May 25, 2019 3:38:33 PM

By far, the most high profile police shootings, was

On July 7, 2016, Micah Xavier Johnson ambushed and fired upon a group of police officers in Dallas, Texas, killing five officers and injuring nine others.

Nothing else comes, remotely, close.

Perception?

Is there any racial disparity in the police shootings of blacks, in the context of the violent crime rates, as detailed, as opposed to the intentional deception or error of using populations counts?

No.

Perception?

Here is an article that you should read:

Based upon the data, whites are more likely to be shot by police, when looking at per capita involvement in crime.

'In the case of police shootings, the evidence is clear that fatal shootings are strongly tied to situations in which violent crime is being committed or suspected of being committed. A typical fatal police shooting occurs when there is the potential for imminent death to an officer or other citizen. Almost 85 percent of police fatal shootings involve armed citizens."

"To be clear, there is a population-level racial disparity in fatal police shootings. But our work suggests this disparity is explained by differences in rates of exposure to the police, rather than racial bias by officers making deadly force decisions."

Reality, not perception.

If reality is never shown by the media, what does that do to perception?

I'll read the book. Thank you.

I hope you read the article. For me, it is not a "new look", I always knew that criminal activity, not population counts, was the correct metric, as should we all.

A new look at racial disparities in police use of deadly force
July 31, 2018
http://theconversation.com/a-new-look-at-racial-disparities-in-police-use-of-deadly-force-98681

Posted by: Dudley Sharp | May 28, 2019 8:41:56 AM

Doug:

Sorry about the duplication.

Both of those were prepared for different conversations and I did not think to use only the second.

I am sorry.

Thank you, again, for all you do.

Posted by: Dudley Sharp | May 28, 2019 8:46:55 AM

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