Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Black prison rates result from crime, not racism

Heather Mac Donald takes on some myths about Black prison rates,.
The favorite culprits for high black prison rates include a biased legal system, draconian drug enforcement and even prison itself. None of these explanations stands up to scrutiny.


Racial activists also allege that prosecutors overcharge and judges oversentence blacks. Backing up this bias claim has been the holy grail of criminology for decades — and the prize remains as elusive as ever.


Unfair drug policies are an equally popular explanation for black incarceration rates. Legions of pundits, activists and academics charge that the war on drugs is a war on minorities.
After refuting the above, she continues to take apart several other claims about drugs and imprisonment, then concludes:
When prominent figures such as Barack Obama make sweeping claims about racial unfairness in the criminal-justice system, they play with fire. The evidence is clear: Black prison rates result from crime, not racism. The dramatic drop in crime in the 1990s, to which stricter sentencing policies unquestionably contributed, has freed thousands of law-abiding inner-city residents from the bondage of fear.

The continuing search for the chimera of criminal-justice bigotry is a useless distraction that diverts energy and attention from the crucial imperative of helping more inner-city boys stay in school — and out of trouble.

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