Isms in the American justice system

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Discuss isms in the American justice system.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

Answers

Well, rather than continue preaching to the deaf, I might as well just copy something from an article. The following excerpt from this article says exactly what I was trying to say in that other thread, albeit much more eloquently.

Article of Faith Number Five: The Number of Black Men in Prison Is Due to a Racist Justice System
In 1995, one in three black men in their twenties was either in jail, on probation, or on parole (the statistic is often distorted as "one in three black men" period, rather than in their twenties, but the truth is awful enough). More to the point, almost half of the United States prison population is black.

This is generally interpreted as evidence that black people are arrested out of proportion to their numbers in society, since they constitute only 13 percent of the population. However, the figures must be seen in light of the fact that as sad as it is, nationwide blacks commit not 13 percent, but 42 percent of the violent crimes in the country. In other words, contrary to the idea that blacks are arrested disproportionately, their proportion of the prison population neatly reflects the rate at which they commit crimes. The reason they commit more crimes is surely traceable to racism, which left a disenfranchised people on the margins of society and most vulnerable to antisocial behavior. However, this does not mean that the percentage of the black prison population above 13 percent were put behind bars for no reason.

Yet the general feeling is that even if blacks are arrested in proportion to the crimes they commit, that there is a bias in the severity of their sentences. However, one study after another, even by scholars expecting their results to reveal racism, show no such bias. When prior records, gravity of the crime, and use of weapons is taken into account, there is no sentencing bias against blacks. Contrary to another piece of common wisdom, black people are not sent to death row disproportionately. Their numbers there also correspond with the proportion of crimes blacks commit, 40 percent in 1994 (also, whites are more likely than blacks to be executed).

Note that the author does attribute this problem to racism, but not on the part of the justice system.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001


Here's a quick random sampling, along with excerpts. There are plenty more out there, although I tried to avoid the ones that were anecdotal.

You can either accept them at the same face value you offer the opinion piece you cite, or you can reject them (guess which one I'm voting you'll do?), or.. hey, maybe you can tell us what it's like where YOU live for change.

New report chronicles criminal justice system's racial bias

"Minorities are more likely than whites to be put to death, imprisoned and pulled over by traffic police, a civil rights group said Thursday in a report concluding that U.S. law enforcement agencies treat whites and people of color in separate and unequal ways.

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights released the 90-page report called "Justice on Trial: Racial Disparities in the American Criminal Justice System," which chronicles what the group calls the systematic and unfair treatment of blacks, Hispanics and other minorities."

Federal Inquiry Finds Racial Profiling in Street Searches

"Prosecutors have based their findings on a statistical analysis of the Street Crime Unit's searches of people its officers had stopped because they were suspected of committing crimes or carrying guns, one official said. Prosecutors told the city that their analysis concluded that blacks and Hispanics in the city were disproportionately singled out in the searches, and that the imbalance could not be explained by the fact that the city's minority neighborhoods typically had higher crime rates, the official said."

[You can look up hundreds of other articles from across the country on the practice of racial profiling, which many areas are currently trying to stop. Generally, there isn't a broad push to stop a something that isn't happening.]

Jail Time By the Book Black youths more likely to get tough sentences than whites, study shows.

Do minority youths appear to be receiving harsher sentences than whites? The answer, according to a study out of the University of Washington, is a resounding yes. Minority youths were more likely to be detained, charged with a criminal offense, tried and sentenced to confinement than white juveniles, the study shows.

But more unsettling may be the reason for the disparity: Probation officials appear to interpret the causes of crime differently for minority youths than they do for whites.

According to the study, by University of Washington sociology professor George S. Bridges and Sara Steen, now an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University, officials are more likely to depict minority juvenile offenders as motivated by internal conflicts, such as being disrespectful of authority or condoning criminal behavior.

White juvenile crime, on the other hand, is more likely to be blamed on external problems, such as a dysfunctional family or influence by other delinquents.

"What struck me was the profoundly different ways the [probation] reports described children who are seemingly different only by their race," says Bridges. "[They] would be charged with the same crime, be the same age and have the same criminal history, but the different ways they were described was just shocking."

Highland Park, Ill. police charged with racism by white cops

"The lawsuit accuses the chief of stopping motorists for being 'black, Mexican, poor or stupid,' and claims the department tried to limit the number of blacks in the neighborhood.

Boston Police To Study Sentencing Disparities

The Northeastern study of Dorchester District Court cases found minority drug defendants were more likely to receive mandatory minimum sentences and prison terms while white defendants were charged with less serious possession and saw no jail time.

...The Northeastern study found African American and Hispanic defendants were charged with more serious charges of distribution and possession in a school zone and received terms in prison. Drug possession within 1,000 feet of a school triggers automatic minimum prison sentences of more than two years.

Northeastern researcher Amy Farrell said the disparities could not be explained by differences in the quantity of drugs involved, the quality of the defendants' attorneys or their prior criminal history. "There seems to be no good explanatory variable except race," Farrell said.



-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001


Sorry Dave, you'll have to do better than that. First you can start by finding the "studies" that prove that Blacks commit 42% of violent crimes. Is that number based on conviction in the courts, accusations by cops, or anything else that would simply be circular logic?

You also might want to find someone a bit more reliable than McWhorter, who's own colleagues at Berkeley describe as a "hustler" and a "rent-a-black" who spouts what White conservatives want to hear. The guy has no credibility in the black community that I've seen, either out here or back in Providence. It's no surprise that the book you cite is published by "Free Press", a conservative outfit that is dedicated to attacking civil rights. Other authors include Thomas Sowell, Dinesh D'Souza, Christina Hoff Sommers ( Who Stole Feminism? and The War Against Boys), A Kinder Gentler Military, A Return to Modesty, and many others. David Horowitz, Ken Hamblin, and William Bennett.

Most of the praise for the book has come from conservative whites dedicated to upholding the U.S. traditional, patriarchial, White Supremicist, Christian culture. No, I'm not exaggerating. Of course, I'm sure Dave Van finds the National Association for the Advancement of White People not racist in the least.

Other reviews from Amazon to the Standard tend to consist mostly of White folks mouthing long-held racist views (the same views that could be heard during the civil rights movement, even during the abolition movement, that Black culture is to blame for the problems of society, not White racism) with a "see, one of them is saying it so it's ok" tone to it. The fact is that conservative foundations like Heritage, Manhattin Institute, Eagle Forum, Scaife, etc have been pouring tons of money into trying to put a face other than Pat Buchannan's and Newt Gingrich's on their attempts to eliminate welfare, eliminate abortion, eliminate measures aimed to ensure the end of discrimination, eliminate most of the gains made by struggle over the last century. There have always been uncle toms, there have always been class collaborators, there have always been Kapos. But what credibility do they really have to anyone except those who feel threatened by civil rights gains? None that I can see.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001


Lynda: Unfortuantely it would take a long time to debunk all those stories and I don't have time right now. I'll try get to it at some future date. A quick glance does show them to be filled with the usual misleading sensationalism.

David: Aw, c'mon. Isn't an association for the advancement of white people racist by definition? The NAAWP might be interesting as satire, but little else. And a quick visit did convince me that McWhorter is not above speciousness, so at least we have that.

But the thing is, I can spot a specious argument from a mile away. And pretty much all the arguments I see made in the media supporting a blatantly racist justice system are just plain specious. More often that not, deliberately so.

Like that first article Lynda linked. What a load of crap. For example:
Though blacks and whites have approximately the same rate of drug use, blacks are one-third more likely to be arrested for drug offenses

Why are they comparing rates of drug use to arrest rates related to drug offenses? Drug use is only once kind of drug offense and is generally considered a lesser offense than dealing. They're comparing apples and oranges to deliberately mislead.

Yes, I would also like to see the results of hard studies. (The studies themselves, and not the media twisting of the studies.) Without them we are at somewhat of an impasse.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001


"Lynda: Unfortuantely it would take a long time to debunk all those stories and I don't have time right now. I'll try get to it at some future date. A quick glance does show them to be filled with the usual misleading sensationalism."

Man, I coulda been so rich right now, if only I could have found anyone to take the bet.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001



Damn.

Lynda, Dave.

I was sooooo impressed with folks around here.

I mean, no one was feeding the trolls.

Y'all, of all people.

I swear.

Obligatory ontopic comments: The worst ism afflicting in the US judicial system? Intellectualism. The strict adherence to the facts, the acknowlegdement of social realities . . .soon, all you'll have to stand on is your third leg, Dave, and we've already seen how inadequate that is. . .

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001


Not exactly one to lead by example, are you "Curtis"?

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001

Oh, and Lynda, what did you think would happen? Do you think I sit up here in Canada and the only thing I can get on the TV news is the latest igloo building techniques? I've seen it all before.

In fact, the level of personal attack I am getting over what is clearly a legitimate personal view leads me to believe that perhaps it is time I followed Mr. Valvis' lead.

Good Bye.

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001


Cue the switch to fake name and address now:

"I think you people are being unfair to that poor Dave Van character, justbecause he's right and you know it!" -- Mave Ban

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001


Even if Beth's forum sucked, I think I'd stick around just because of stuff like this.

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001


One of the things I was sort of fretting about last night is the fact that Dave makes it difficult for other conservatives to post here. We could probably have a legitimate discussion about some of these race issues he raises, but I know that I, for one, have no interest in "debating" Dave. I know a lot of other people feel the same way because they tell me so. So the discussion turns into a few vs. Dave, with everyone else on the sidelines shaking their heads. And that sucks.

I really don't want to ban people, but I think I have to stick with one rule: if you make the forum no fun for me, and no fun for anyone except yourself and the folks with the stomach to argue with you, then you aren't welcome. I can't think of any other way to do this and still keep it fun.

(Well, yes I can; a fellow forum member and I came up with this yesterday: if you're willing to pay ALL the hosting fees, plus a $6 surcharge every time you post [i.e., the cost of a margarita at the cafe down the street from me], then you can stay. If I can stay drunk, you can stay. Otherwise, no dice. This offer void in Canada.)

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001


I don't know if its difficult for conservatives to post here. I feel that many people in other threads have expressed if not conservative views, then not traditional lefty ones, and if they do it with respect and logic, are able to make their opinions known. I think the people who get shot down (and I think that this is on the right and the left) are the ones who look for a stupid argument, based on name calling and assumptions.

There are a lot of conservatives who are offended at the National Association for the Advancement of White People. Obviously, they are out making money and paying fewer taxes and not on this board!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that there have been many topics like the immunization topic, the Nader topics, etc, where conservative viewpoints have been discussed, without calling people names.

And that said, many conservatives might agree that Xeney's Board is a "private club" and therefore, she can set the rules....I agree. If you want to spend all day arguing stupid shit, go to the Slate Boards.

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001


I don't want this to be a liberals-only club. I do think we've lost most of our more conservative posters to the boards at ThreeWay, which probably won't change any time soon. I like the fact that debates get kind of heated around here, while still staying intelligent.

But the baiting is tiresome, and I don't want the board to be tiresome. I don't think that's too much to ask.

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001


The politics and other heavily-debated boards at ThreeWay are, in my oh so humble opinion, much more tiresome than these. If those boards are full of conservatives, they're all screaming at each other, not seeing anyone else's point but their own, and railing at the general injustice going on around them (I am generalizing; I am aware that this is not 100% the case!).

The liberals on ThreeWay are, of course, doing the same thing.

Even though I rarely join in the debating, I enjoy this board far more simply because it doesn't often spiral downward into playground jibes - and when it does, it's mostly funny.

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001


Hello all, long time lurker and forum fan here:

Not sure if this helps any but so what if this group is exclusive. I don't think anyone would have a problem with conservative folks posting to the forum if they were intelligent, resourceful and fun. We are talking about a person that starts off posts by saying "You can call me all the names you want, but the basic problem here is that I'm right and you're wrong." Enough said there. It's almost comical to think that someone would actually come into a room full of people and say something like that. How can anyone be surprised at the reaction he is receiving. He's not around to be anyone's friend or have a good time he just wants to piss people off.

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001



I think trollism should be a word.

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001

You can look up hundreds of other articles from across the country on the practice of racial profiling, which many areas are currently trying to stop. Generally, there isn't a broad push to stop a something that isn't happening.

Perhaps you could explain the mechanism by which racial profiling puts innocent people in jail.

I double dare you.

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001


"Perhaps you could explain the mechanism by which racial profiling puts innocent people in jail."

You go first. Locate where I indicated that it did.

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001


I don't think anyone is suggesting that racial profiling invariably leads to wrongful convictions, but it *does* lead to egregious violations of our Fourth Amendment, which some of us consider a bad thing. Also, since a certain number of wrongful convictions are inevitable, if we're arresting minorities at a greater rate because of racial profiling then we're obviously increasing the risk of wrongful convictions. (More arrests = more chances for wrongful conviction.) ALSO, the increased risk is even greater than it sounds at first, because if white people are only being stopped, searched, adn arrested because the police have a reasonable suspicion that they've committed a crime, but people of color are being stopped, searched, and arrested not just because of that suspicion but also because of racial profiling, then there is an even greater risk of wrongful convictions among the latter group than among the former.

Sorry, you dared me.

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001


Does anyone realize that white people are also victims of profiling?

Early in my career as a reporter, I did a ride-along with the sheriff's department of the small town in south Florida where I worked. The town was racially mixed (about equal parts white, black and hispanic, with a small but significant Native American population), but one section of it was almost all black.

There was a lot of known drug trade in that black section, and every night the deputies would pay special attention as they drove the one road leading in and out of it. If they saw a young white person on that road after about 8 p.m., they'd look for any reason to pull him or her over, on the assumption that the only reason most white people would have to be in that area would be to buy crack cocaine.

On the night I was with them, they pulled over a white guy who was about forty years old because he had a tail light out. Normally that would be a ten-minute stop and end with a ticket that he could probably get dismissed if he got the light fixed. But in this case, three back-up units rolled in and they kept him there almost an hour, searched his car (I think with consent), ran his name and license number for outstanding warrants and questioned him about why he was there. They finally let him go because he'd said someone in the black section worked for him, and he needed to get a message to that person and the person didn't have a phone.



-- Anonymous, July 19, 2001

oops ... to complete the above, that was his story and after about 45 minutes of questions and searches, the cops couldn't prove otherwise or find any evidence he'd committed any crime.

But it was racial profiling, every bit as egregious as any examples involving minorities. I wanted to write about it, but unfortunately the newspaper was in the town's back pocket and I wasn't allowed to.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2001

"One of the things I was sort of fretting about last night is the fact that Dave makes it difficult for other conservatives to post here"

Seeing that made me realize that I haven't posted here in awhile, even though I've been both a Xeney fan and a right-wing wacko for many years.

It never occurred to me to think of Dave as a conservative. "Canadian Conservative"?? It just sounds wrong and unnatural, at least to a Texan. Certainly his postings do not deter me from the occasional diatribe.

I think I may prefer to do my debating in 3WA for a technical reason, I can edit my posts there. I'm a terrible speller, thanks to the incompetence of the America public system's bizarre affair with "look see" reading instruction over phonics. Therefore posting without the chance to edit latter is a high risk activity for me.

Jim

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2001


That last paragraph is terrible. See what I mean.

Jim

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2001


From an article Lynda quoted: But more unsettling may be the reason for the disparity: Probation officials appear to interpret the causes of crime differently for minority youths than they do for whites.
According to the study, by University of Washington sociology professor George S. Bridges and Sara Steen, now an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University, officials are more likely to depict minority juvenile offenders as motivated by internal conflicts, such as being disrespectful of authority or condoning criminal behavior.
White juvenile crime, on the other hand, is more likely to be blamed on external problems, such as a dysfunctional family or influence by other delinquents.


I'm going to go out on a limb here and risk being branded a conservative or a racist (neither of which is true) and say that yes, I think it's pretty apparent that blacks and whites do commit crimes for different reasons.

In case you haven't noticed, black youth today, especially in poor areas, are growing up in a "gangsta" culture that celebrates violence, dehumanizes women, dehumanizes, in fact, just about everybody. White kids have some of those influences, but they're not steeped in it. Just glance at my entry here for some lyrics from popular rap artists ... these were not hard to find, and just barely scratch the surface of the culture.

Of course it's not true of all black people, and it's not about race. But it is about environment, influence and conditions that lead to 15-year-old black kids thinking that riding around with a gun ready to kill a rival or commit a carjacking is normal, accepted behavior.

I am pretty well convinced that some of the disparity in arrest rates is because black people do commit more violent crime. There is racism in the criminal justice system, so I emphasize that only some of the disparity is explained that way, although I expect that to be ignored by people who don't want to hear it. And I emphasize once more that it's not about race, it's about social climate, but I expect some people to ignore that too.

Finally, the passage quoted notes that that is how probation officials are prone to interpret the reasons for crime. I suggest that it's really not possible to sit in an office and study statistical tables and come away understanding the reasons for youth crime better than people who interact with criminal youth every single day. Maybe those probation officials reach those conclusions one case at a time, and that's just what the reality is.

(Oh no, that can't be because black people are noble and pure and it must be white racism that leads to that conclusion.) (Oh yes, black people are evil savages and they're all murderers, and people who think there's any racism at work are just blind.)

I reject both of those extremes. Poor black kids who grow up without authority figures, shaped in their moral development by Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg and the neighborhood crack dealer are not immune to the influence. But it has nothing to do with their race, just the conditions they grow up in. Then some people develop prejudices that lead them to assume criminal intent more quickly when dealing with minorities than they would with white people. Both of those factors contribute to a very complicated situation.



-- Anonymous, July 19, 2001

Care to take a crack at the ratio of white suburban to black urban consumers of Snoop and 2Pac?

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2001

Oh I know white kids listen to it (though I don't really understand why.) But they don't have the dozens of other influences feeding into their development, so it comes in a different context. It's like the difference between living in Dublin and listening to U2 in Kansas City.

Look, I know there's racism at work in the justice system, and when you have people serving disproportionate sentences for similar offenses with no apparent difference other than race (as we do), it's obvious that there's a major problem. I'm just not convinced that that's the only problem. And I think if you ignore the other facets of the problem, or pretend it's not there, you're not going to solve much.

I was heistant to say what I said, because I know people I like and respect may think less of me for it. But I don't think it's necessarily doing anyone any favors to believe that The Man is the sole problem.



-- Anonymous, July 19, 2001

I'm not disagreeing with you conclusions, but I do find the path there a bit suspect (in terms of accuracy, not racism, whatever). For example, I think you seriously understate the rate and depths to which white suburban kids buy into the whole gangta-rap scene.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2001

I wasn't attempting to build a concrete case, just passing on some thoughts. But I want to make it clear to you, I'm citing the influence of the music as only one of many factors, and quite likely more a symptom than a cause. I'm really really skeptical of any argument that art or entertainment can cause people to behave in certain ways.

But either way, kids are entertained by rap music that glorifies murder and robbery, and while I do fully understand and know that it's very popular in the suburbs too (hell, I like rap and hiphop as musical forms), I think it's obvious that the affluent suburbs and the inner cities present two very different social milleus, and therefore the impact of a certain thought expressed in music has a different weight depending on the circumstances of the person listening to it.

Doesn't that make sense? "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" can inspire tears and fond memories for a 70-year-old baseball fan and be just an annoying ditty to a twenty-year-old punk-rocker with no interest in sports. So does it seem farfetched that "Natural Born Killa" by Dre can be a passing diversion for a rich white kid and a call to action for a poor black kid, especially if the black kid is surrounded by other people who are telling him the same things and applying peer pressure to act on them?

It's not the music, I don't want to be misunderstood on that. It's a hundred different factors, all of them having to do with affluence and education and the surrounding society and none of them with race. The music is just one thing out of a hundred, don't focus too heavily on that.

But like I alluded to before, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" has a far stronger impact on people who have lived through "The Troubles" in Ireland than it does on me, who thinks it an ok pop tune from 1982 with very little relevance to my situation.



-- Anonymous, July 19, 2001

I don't know. I think music and fashion tend to reflect culture rather than shape it. Black kids learn their values the same places white kids do, from their peers and family members. And there's plenty of anti-women, violent crap in white families.

I was trying to find some statistics on sex offenses by race, but I couldn't find any compiled that way. It's my impression (both because I believe I've read these statistics in the past, and from my own caseload) that sex offenses and other violence against women and children are far more prevalent in white populations than in black populations. Anyway, since sex offenses and other violent crimes have actually been dropping since about the time the current crop of gangsta rappers appeared on the scene, I don't think you can blame them for anything. And you know, I may step on toes here, but I wouldn't put too much faith in the fair-mindedness of probation officers. Everyone who works in the criminal justice system winds up pretty cynical, but if I were going to look to any segment of the justice system for fairness and accuracy, probation officers would be somewhere barely ahead of correctional officers ... and they'd be dead last.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2001


Beth ... I don't disagree with you. My point is just, I think, a reaction against the idea that all racial disparity in the justice system can be attributed to racism. I do think certain types of crimes are more prevalent in certain populations.

You're probably right about sex crimes being more prevalent among whites. I don't have any specific numbers either, but that's congruent with what I've read and observed in the past.

As for the gangsta rappers, I think they are symptomatic of the culture. If their lyrics reflect their reality, if they are painting word pictures of the neighborhoods they come from, then those neighborhoods are rampant with guns and drugs and violence. And if pre-teen kids are growing up surrounded by those things and without many influences to keep them away from it, how can they help but be drawn in that direction, some of them far enough to commit the crimes that they see going on every day?



-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

Just to summarize how we got here, a certain Canadian disputed that racism in law enforcement existed at all. No one ever tried to say that it meant 'innocent people are going to jail' (although I'm sure there are plenty of anecdotal examples of that happening), nor did anyone say that that's the ONLY cause of the higher rate of a higher rate of convicted criminals among the black population - while that specific article may not have included it, I tried to select those that addressed other possibilities and found disparities even after taking them into account.

You're citing an environment (rap music, a neighborhood that promotes the idea that violence and crime are normal), and suggesting that may be an alternative cause to racism.

Let's say for argument's sake that you're right.... If so, then why do the probabation officers in the article you take issue with tend to only impart environmental reasons with white kids, while citing internal character defects when it comes to the black ones? In terms of whether or not racism exists *within the law enforcement system* that has real effect on some people recieving harsher treatment than others, you prove the point.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001


Thank you for the lucid summary, Lynda. I was getting confused myself. So Michael, I think we agree on the larger picture -- no, racism is not the only reason black people wind up in prison at a higher rate than white people do. I think it's part of the reason. I think that racism inside and outside of the justice system are partly but not exclusively to blame. I reject that certain Canadian's contention that racism in the justice system plays little or no role in that dispairty. I don't think there is one answer to the question of why anyone winds up in prison; I think racism and poverty and upbringing and personal choices all play a part. I think we disagree in that I think music and TV play a tiny and mostly insignificant role, if any, but otherwise I don't think we have a fundamental disagreement here.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

Way to goad me out of retirement. I simply cannot sit on the sidelines and watch words be put into my mouth.

Lynda B. wrote:
Just to summarize how we got here, a certain Canadian disputed that racism in law enforcement existed at all.

Beth write:
Thank you for the lucid summary, Lynda. I was getting confused myself.

That's a lie. A complete fabrication. Well, except for the part where Beth admitted she was getting confused. I'll agree with that part. But the part about me is way off base. Here are some excerpts from what I did say.

1. I happen to believe that in this day and age the majority of people involved in law and order are not overtly racist. Therefore, when a mistake of some sort is made I assume it is just a mistake, and not the result of racism. I believe that more often than not this will be the case.

Notice how I said "the majority." Notice how I was careful not to say "all." Notice the use of the phrase "more often than not" instead of "always." See, that would be because I acknowledge that there is some racism.

2. Does racism exist? Of course. Does this mean every time something bad or unfair happens to a black person at the hands of the law it's the result of racism? No, it doesn't

That seems blatantly clear to me. Did you even bother to read the discussion before responding?

3. I'm not saying that racism doesn't exist. I never said that racism doesn't exist. (In fact, I've already acknowledged that it does, see above.)

Hmmm. It would seem as if I'm trying to say something about racism. I wonder what is could be?

4. My position is that the reason African-Americans are disproportionately prosecuted has more to do with the fact that they commit a disproportionate number of crimes and less to do with the color of their skin.

Wow. A clear statement of my position. Notice how the word "less" was used. I wonder why I didn't use the word "nothing"?

5. Yes, on occasion, it [racial prosecution] can happen. I would argue that is the exception rather than the rule. In the majority of cases, people are prosecuted because they commit a crime.

Notice the use of the word "majority." I wonder why I didn't use the word "all."

Hmmm. That was yet another admission of racism. How many is that now? Could there be another?

6. I've made it very clear I am not saying it [prosecuting because of their skin color] never happens.

(The added words are taken from context).

How many times do I have to acknowledge that racism, including racism in law enforcement, does exist before peope stop claiming I don't think it does?

Perhaps if I use all capital letters. Perhaps that will help Lynda, and others, understand.

RACISM IS ALIVE AND WELL IN AMERICA, AND THAT EXTENDS INTO THE JUSTICE SYSTEM.

Are you happy now?

But I simply must point out, that does not mean that 41% of the prison population is black due to a racist justice system. Sorry Charlie, that's like arguing that 94% of the prison population is male because of a sexist justice system.

It just isn't so.

Here is an article that provides some interesting insights into murder in Philadelphia: http://www.ppv.org/content/reports/murder/murder-Index.html

According to the article, as of November 30, 2000 they had cleared 65% of homicides committed between 1996 and 1999. This is right in line with the national average of 67%. Since a large number of these crimes are solved this should provide some reasonably accurate insight into the numbers of different peoples actually committing the crimes.

Frome the article:

The racial makeup of the city's alleged murderers does not match the city's overall racial makeup. African Americans make up less than half the city's population but represented over three-quarters of its alleged murderers between 1996 and 1999. Caucasians, on the other hand, make up over half the city's population and represented only 5 percent of its alleged murderers. And while 7 percent of the city's population is Hispanic, 17 percent of its alleged murderers between 1996 and 1999 were Hispanic.

There are some who would have you believe the huge disparity in alleged murder rates is due to systemic racism withing the justice system.

I would say it is far more likely that police conducted mostly honest investigations and the disparity is largely due to the fact that minorities commit a disproportionate number of murders.

Is that such a hard concept to grasp?

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001


Anyone who responds to him will be horsewhipped.

That is all.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001


(I'm kidding. Sort of. I think this discussion may have reached the point where it's not going anywhere, though.)

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

racism is not the only reason black people wind up in prison at a higher rate than white people do. I think it's part of the reason. ... I don't think there is one answer to the question of why anyone winds up in prison; I think racism and poverty and upbringing and personal choices all play a part. I think we disagree in that I think music and TV play a tiny and mostly insignificant role, if any, but otherwise I don't think we have a fundamental disagreement here.

I don't think we have any fundamental disagreement either. (And I don't think music plays a role in causing behavior ... I've never bought that argument. I do think the kinds of music a person relates to can say something about that person's psyche, but as an expression and not a cause.)

I think I have kind of a hot-button when matters of race are discussed because it's very easy and very common for what is really a very complicated issue to be grossly oversimplified, by people on either side. It's not a simple black-and-white issue (pun intended), but often it is discussed as if it were. Like Johnnie Cochrane arguing that OJ Simpson was on trial only because he was a black man and the racist LA cops wanted to punish him for being involved with a white woman.

I read in USA Today that some people are criticizing the amount of effort being put into the the Chandra Levy case, saying it is racist because the authorities wouldn't be going to so much trouble for a missing black girl. Wheras I think they're going to so much trouble because of the visibility of the case. If it were Jesse Jackson's daughter, or Kwesi Mfume's sister, they'd be doing the same, and if it were a poor white girl with no boyfriend in Congress, they probably wouldn't. It's a socio-economic bias, but not a racial one.

But I think it's obvious that racism is a significant factor in our justice system.



-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

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