Friday, July 31, 2009

How the Right Distorts Crime Data to Justify Unequal Policing
Rationalizing Racial Oppression
[These are national figures; you can imagine how much worse it is in the county of Whirlpool & Rep. Fred Upton]

...police are much more likely--on the order of 2-3 times as likely--to physically search blacks, once stopped, than they are to search whites. And this is true, even though blacks, when searched, are less likely to actually have drugs or other contraband on them than whites are. Indeed, as for drugs, data show that usage rates are roughly equal between whites and blacks: in some years whites have slightly higher rates of usage, thus possession, while in other years, blacks have slightly higher rates (1). In any case, there is no logical reason for police to assume blacks are significantly more likely, if at all more likely, to have such items on them, given the evidence, and yet they apparently do.

...blacks and whites are stopped in roughly the same percentages by law enforcement, though it may seem to indicate parity of treatment, actually doesn't, for one very important reason: namely, because African Americans, on average, drive 2200 fewer miles per year, per capita, than whites. In other words, whites, collectively have millions more hours and miles on the road and thus, opportunities to be stopped than blacks (2). Thus, given the greater opportunity for whites to be stopped, and the lesser opportunity for blacks to be stopped, the fact that the two groups are stopped at the same rate--especially given the evidence that there is no substantial difference in driving behavior or moving violations which could justify the disparity (3)--suggests a substantial amount of unfair and unequal treatment meted out to black folks.