A 9/02/2015 HuffPo article by Kim Farbota says "there is a common conservative narrative that indicates the disproportionate incarceration of black people is not the result of systemic racism, but rather of shortcomings within the black community". The Libertarian blogger Willis Hart is one such Conservative, making just such a case in a recent blog post.
|Willis Hart: On the Fact that the Black Arrest Rate Is Nearly Identical to the Statistics Derived from the National Crime Victimization Survey... This all but demolishes the charge that blacks are arrested disproportionately to the crime that they commit in that it makes no sense whatsoever that victims would falsely accuse black folks as opposed to trying to nail the true perpetrator. It also seems to point out that, while, yes, there are no doubt some biased cops out there, the vast majority of those in law enforcement are simply doing their jobs and apprehending who they're supposed to. Unless of course you're paranoid. (4/17/2016 AT 4:33pm).|
"Black people commit more crimes than white people" is also a factor in the Conservative narrative (as per the HuffPo article) and it's basically the argument Willis makes in his post.
|(1) If a black person and a white person each commit a crime, the black person is more likely to be arrested. This is due in part to the fact that black people are more heavily policed. Black people, more often than white people, live in dense urban areas. Dense urban areas are more heavily policed than suburban or rural areas. When people live in close proximity to one another, police can monitor more people more often. In more heavily policed areas, people committing crimes are caught more frequently. This could help explain why, for example, black people and white people smoke marijuana at similar rates, yet black people are 3.7 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession. (The discrepancy could also be driven by overt racism, more frequent illegal searches of black people, or an increased willingness to let non-blacks off with a warning).|
(2) When black people are arrested for a crime, they are convicted more often than white people arrested for the same crime. ...whether or not a defendant can afford a reputable attorney. The interaction of poverty and trial outcomes could help explain why, for example, while black defendants represent about 35% of drug arrests, 46% of those convicted of drug crimes are black. (This discrepancy could also be due to racial bias on the part of judges and jurors.)
(3) When black people are convicted of a crime, they are more likely to be sentenced to incarceration compared to whites convicted of the same crime. When a person is convicted of a crime, a judge often has discretion in determining whether the defendant will be incarcerated or given a less severe punishment such as probation, community service, or fines. One study found that in a particular region blacks were incarcerated for convicted felony offenses 51% of the time while whites convicted of felonies were incarcerated 38% of the time. (Black Crime Rates: What Happens When Numbers Aren't Neutral by Kim Farbota. The Huffington Post 9/2/2015, Updated 1/19/2016).
Yeah, that all sounds totally fair. Also note that that the article refers several times to victimless drug crimes. So, while Willis says "I would legalize marijuana immediately", he totally ignores victimless crime in his comparing of Black Arrest rates and the Statistics derived from the National Crime Victimization survey.
Gee, I wonder why. Perhaps because looking at victimless drug crimes (and how African Americans are arrested at a much higher rate than Whites for these crimes) doesn't fit his narrative. That narrative being that "law enforcement are simply doing their jobs" in arresting Blacks who are much more criminally inclined than Whites. And, no, racism absolutely is not a factor... unless you're "paranoid".
"White people are more likely to deal drugs, but black people are more likely to get arrested for it" according to a 9/30/2014 Washington Post article by Christopher Ingraham. So, more "paranoia"?
|Jonathan Rothwell of the Brookings Institute: Arrest data shows a striking trend, [which is that] arrests of blacks have fallen for violent and property crimes, but soared for drug related crimes. As of 2011, drug crimes comprised 14 percent of all arrests and a miscellaneous category that includes "drug paraphernalia" possession comprised an additional 31 percent of all arrests. Just 6 percent and 14 percent of arrests were for violent and property crimes, respectively. (link).|
Which isn't to say that I think there is no disparity when it comes to arrests of Black people for crimes in which there is a victim. What statistics derived from the National Crime Victimization Survey is the Hartster referring to?
Perhaps I could figure this out if I did a little more digging, but I'm not inclined to do so, given the fact that I've already demolished Hart's racist BS simply by pointing out the FACT that he totally ignores victimless crimes (drug crimes, traffic violations AKA "driving while Black", etc).
Image: Here's a pretty astonishing chart on the skyrocketing number of arrests of black Americans for nonviolent drug crimes. What it shows is that Blacks are far more likely to be arrested for selling or possessing drugs than whites, even though whites use drugs at the same rate. While other crimes are down. So it's clearly drug arrests driving the disparity, yet WTNPH ignores this fact... for some reason (his racism).