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2008 June 02 Monday
Heather Mac Donald: Is the Criminal-Justice System Racist?

Heather Mac Donald has a new City Journal article entitled "Is the Criminal-Justice System Racist?". She says no. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton label whites as racist rather than admit that blacks commit crimes at much higher rates than whites.

At a presidential primary debate this Martin Luther King Day, for instance, Senator Barack Obama charged that blacks and whites “are arrested at very different rates, are convicted at very different rates, [and] receive very different sentences . . . for the same crime.” Not to be outdone, Senator Hillary Clinton promptly denounced the “disgrace of a criminal-justice system that incarcerates so many more African-Americans proportionately than whites.”

It is good of Senator Obama to remind us of what he believes. As President will he tilt the criminal justice system to make it biased in favor of black criminals?

The racial differences in crime rates show up in all the major ways of measuring differences in criminality.

Racial activists usually remain assiduously silent about that problem. But in 2005, the black homicide rate was over seven times higher than that of whites and Hispanics combined, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. From 1976 to 2005, blacks committed over 52 percent of all murders in America. In 2006, the black arrest rate for most crimes was two to nearly three times blacks’ representation in the population. Blacks constituted 39.3 percent of all violent-crime arrests, including 56.3 percent of all robbery and 34.5 percent of all aggravated-assault arrests, and 29.4 percent of all property-crime arrests.

The advocates acknowledge such crime data only indirectly: by charging bias on the part of the system’s decision makers. As Obama suggested in the Martin Luther King debate, police, prosecutors, and judges treat blacks and whites differently “for the same crime.”

Crime victim reports on the race of perpetrators match the arrest statistics.

Let’s start with the idea that cops over-arrest blacks and ignore white criminals. In fact, the race of criminals reported by crime victims matches arrest data. As long ago as 1978, a study of robbery and aggravated assault in eight cities found parity between the race of assailants in victim identifications and in arrests—a finding replicated many times since, across a range of crimes. No one has ever come up with a plausible argument as to why crime victims would be biased in their reports.

Obama is in the ranks of those who tried to excuse some blacks in Jena who almost killed a white guy. The Jena episode shows what is wrong with liberals in America.

Moving up the enforcement chain, the campaign against the criminal-justice system next claims that prosecutors overcharge and judges oversentence blacks. Obama describes this alleged postarrest treatment as “Scooter Libby justice for some and Jena justice for others.” Jena, Louisiana, of course, was where a D.A. initially lodged attempted second-degree murder charges against black students who, in December 2006, slammed a white student’s head against a concrete beam, knocking him unconscious, and then stomped and kicked him in the head while he was down. As Charlotte Allen has brilliantly chronicled in The Weekly Standard, a local civil rights activist crafted a narrative linking the attack to an unrelated incident months earlier, in which three white students hung two nooses from a schoolyard tree—a display that may or may not have been intended as a racial provocation. This entrepreneur then embellished the tale with other alleged instances of redneck racism—above all, the initial attempted-murder charges. An enthusiastic national press responded to the bait exactly as intended, transforming the “Jena Six” into victims rather than perpetrators. In the seven months of ensuing headlines and protests, Jena became a symbol of systemic racial unfairness in America’s court system. If blacks were disproportionately in prison, the refrain went, it was because they faced biased prosecutors—like the one in Jena—as well as biased juries and judges.

Heather goes on to knock down myths about drug enforcement and incarceration. Read the whole thing if the topic interests you.

By Randall Parker    2008 June 02 11:04 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (5)
2007 January 31 Wednesday
Students With Higher Scores Behave Better

Asians who do best in American schools are not prone to bad behavior.

The popular stereotype of Asian Pacific Island (API) teenagers that portrays them as high achievers who are also prone to bad behavior, is false, new research at the University of Chicago shows.

The examination of a major survey of more than 13,000 teenagers showed that a student’s grade point average is a strong predictor of behavior for Asian-American youth as well as for other youth. The study is the first to examine the relationship between behavior and grade point averages across ethnic groups, although there have been other studies that have shown in general that students with good grades also are more likely to stay out of trouble.

Of course GPA correlates with IQ. Higher IQ kids and adults behave better and commit fewer crimes. Partly this is due to the ability of the intellect to suppress impulses. Partly it is due to the ability of the intellect to simulate and understand the effects that one's behavior has on others. But also it comes from a greater ability to project and see how one's actions can harm one's own prospects.

In all ethnic groups studied the smarter kids were better behaved on average than the dumber ones.

Among Hispanics, African-American and white young people as well as API youth, students with high grade point averages report many fewer problems with crime, pregnancy and alcohol abuse, according to the paper “Academic Achievement and Problem Behaviors among Asian Pacific Islander American Adolescents” published in the current issue of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

In some cases, grade point average (GPA) was a particularly strong predictor of behavior for Asian American students. For instance, 22 percent of API girls with a “D” average GPA reported having been pregnant, while five percent of white youth whose GPA was “D” average reported having been pregnant, Choi found. Among API youth with an “A” grade point average, two percent reported having been pregnant while four percent of the white girls with that grade point average reported having been pregnant.

At first glance these results suggest that Asian behavior varies more as a function of level of intelligence. Do dumber Asians behave worse than dumber whites while smarter Asians behave better than smarter whites? Or does this result come from a pooling of results of disparate Asian groups into a single category that hides a lot of differences between, say, Vietnamese, Filipinos, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and so on?

Do Vietnamese especially have a larger standard of deviation in behavior?

The stereotype of API young people which characterizes them as being simultaneously high achieving and prone to delinquent behavior comes from academic studies that look at group behavior rather than individual behavior, Choi said. Asian-American young people are the highest academically achieving ethnic group in the country. At the same time, some API young people exhibit criminal behavior.

“For example, Vietnamese youth earned the highest grades among student samples in a San Diego study published in 1997. At the same time, they were the fourth-largest group on probation, following Hispanic, white, and black youth in California and their probation rates increased 67 percent between 1990 and 1995, according to another study” she said.

Or do these results come from lumping together ethnic Vietnamese with ethnic Chinese who also came from Vietnam to the United States?

See here or here for a table showing how white males do at different levels of IQ. 7% of white males below 90 IQ have been incarcerated for example. Above 125 IQ the percentage ever incarcerated drops below 1%. I'd like to see an equivalent table for a large variety of racial and ethnic groups.

By Randall Parker    2007 January 31 09:12 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (8)
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