Five Myths of the ‘Racist’ Criminal Justice System

Larry Elder, Front Page Mag, April 20, 2012

Calling America’s criminal justice system “racist” is not confined to “civil rights leaders” like the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Then-Sen. Barack Obama, during the 2008 presidential campaign, said it, too. Blacks and whites, said Obama, “are arrested at very different rates, are convicted at very different rates (and) receive very different sentences … for the same crime.”


Let’s examine five major assumptions behind this assertion.

1) Blacks are arrested at higher rates compared to whites—but wrongly so.

Not true. While only 13 percent of the population, blacks accounted for 28 percent of nationwide arrests in 2010 and 38.1 percent of arrests for violent crime (murders, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault). But are they unfairly arrested? Studies find that arrest rates by race are comparable to the race of suspect identification by victims.

For example, in a given city, x number of robbery victims describe their assailants as black—whether or not the suspect has been apprehended. It turns out that the race of those arrested matches the percentage given by victims. {snip}

2) Blacks are convicted at higher rates and given longer sentences than whites for the same crime.

Not true. Differences in conviction and sentencing rates by race are due to differences in the gravity of the criminal offenses, prior records or other legal variables. A 1994 Justice Department survey of felony cases in the country’s 75 largest urban areas actually found lower felony prosecution rates for blacks than whites and that blacks were less likely to be found guilty at trial.

3) The sentence disparity between powder and crack cocaine is racist and accounts for a large percentage of imprisoned blacks.

Not true. Concerned about the deadly effect of crack within their own communities, black members of Congress led the charge to pass the 1986 federal drug laws. The bill that was passed—which included the crack/powder sentencing disparity—did so with the support of the majority of black congresspersons.


In 2006, the feds tried 5,619 crack sellers, and 4,495 of them were black—out of the 562,000 blacks in state and federal prisons at the end of that year. Add in county and city jails, and the figure rises to 858,000. And states’ crack cocaine laws are not the culprits. {snip}

4) The “War on Drugs” accounts for a large number of blacks behind bars.

Not true. In 2010, blacks were 31.8 percent of all arrests for drug crimes. But arrests for drug offenses are only 12.4 percent of all non-traffic arrests in the country and accounted for 14.2 percent of the offenses for which blacks were arrested.

5) More blacks are in jail than in college.

Not true. “More blacks (are) in jail than college, in every state,” said Jesse Jackson in 2007. That same year, presidential candidate Sen. Obama, echoed: “More young black men languish in prison than attend colleges and universities across America.”

If Jackson and Obama refer to black men of the usual college-age years, their claim is not even remotely true. The Washington Post “Fact Checker” wrote: “According to 2005 Census Bureau statistics, the male African-American population of the United States aged between 18 and 24 numbered 1,896,000. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 106,000 African-Americans in this age group were in federal or state prisons at the end of 2005. … If you add the numbers in local jail (measured in mid-2006), you arrive at a grand total of 193,000 incarcerated young black males, or slightly over 10 percent.

“According to the same census data, 530,000 of these African-American males, or 28 percent, were enrolled in colleges or universities … in 2005. That is five times the number of young black men in federal and state prisons and two and a half times the total number incarcerated. If you expanded the age group to include African-American males up to 30 or 35, the college attendees would still outnumber the prisoners.”


Topics: , , , ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • Hunter Morrow

    It is unfair that 3 percent of the population (black “men” under 50) commits approximately 40 percent of ALL CRIME and then whines about justice for Trayskittles and other criminal scumbags.

    Think about it. 3 percent of the population, 40 percent of the total crime, ready to whine and riot over “justice” at the drop of an ugly baseball cap.


  • As far as #2 and #4, don’t forget, (and I wish Elder would have said this, but he might not know it), a lot of long prison stints for what seem to be drug offenses are only officially for the drug offenses.  They were the results of plea deals where charges for violent crimes were dropped in exchange for a guilty plea on the drugs and a sentence on the long end of the legally permissible.

    As for #3, relative to the danger and addictive properties of crack versus powder, there was actually an under-disparity for crack sentences.

    As for #5, I think it’s true that more college age black men are in college than in prison.  However, if we had a truly fair and sane society, there would be more in prison than in college.

    • Hunter Morrow

       Well, if we were truly sane the numbers would be the same: 0

      Let Africa worry about Africans, let Mexico worry about Mexicans.

    • The__Bobster

      As for #5, I think it’s true that more college age black men are in college than in prison.  However, if we had a truly fair and sane society, there would be more in prison than in college.

      An apples to oranges comparison. Bantus can commit felonies over a 60-year period but go to college over a 4-6 year period.

    • disqus2222

       That and Blacks tend to do more blatantly obvious drug selling such as on street corners and to random people as opposed to Whites who use discretion and do it privately.  It shouldn’t be a shocked that Blacks therefore get arrested more for such blatant acts.

  • The “Establishment” in this country hangs onto this “disparity in sentencing” etc. baloney like a dog with its favorite bone. It’s their desperate attempt to avoid facing the reality: That blacks commit a hugely disproportionate share of crime in this country; particularly the violent kind.

     If they finally admitted that this was true, then they might have to face all the social pathologies now afflicting the black community — and being mostly ignored by its leaders, and those of the nation as a whole. Much easier for the Revs, the “Black Caucus” and the pointy-headed liberal, self-hating Whites to continue blaming “White racism.” And then they slime anyone who points out the truth — like this website — as being “bigoted” and “preaching hate.”

     It would be funny, if it weren’t so pathetic, and scary.

    • disqus2222

       Liberals freak out over kids on the playground making a pretend gun with his hand but import thousands of African immigrants to their city and watch violent crime go way up.

      Makes sense, for delusional people at least.

  • sbuffalonative

    Facts are irrelevant to the Left; perception trumps reality.

    • disqus2222

       And the perception is based on Hollywood movies.

    • JohnEngelman

      It is natural for one to allow one’s likes and dislikes to influence one’s judgment of what is true and false. This tendency is not restricted to those on the left. 

    • diversity_is_a_hate_crime

      Widening perceptions in Mobile, Alabama.

  • crazy_j

    Just take a look at this link:

    That’s Detroit local news. Have a look-see and a listen to that ghetto-fabulous judge and his clerk.

    My God.

    I’d be curious to see what that judge’s rates for convicting whites is.

    • diversity_is_a_hate_crime

      That’s the future. Whites are already minoritized out of opportunities, and this is when we are still the demographic majority.  What happens when we are the demo. minority.

      Horror, death, mayhem, chaos- we are allowing ourselves to be turned into a Third World hell hole right before our eyes, and there seems to be nothing we can do about it.

      Our duty now is survival and vengeance.   Prosperity ended with the Bush-Obama deficits and debt.   

  • ONE TRUTH of the justice system: We don’t execute enough racist animals.
    Another truth: we let this filth OUT to harm AGAIN

    All, in the name of “Diversity”

  • Rocky Bass

    I have been over in the trenches at newsone, anyone else wanna make a raid?

  • If Blacks can’t pass the test, then the test is racist. If Blacks can’t win spelling bees, then spelling bees are racist. If Blacks can’t obey the laws, then the laws must also be racist.

    For that reason I hereby advocate that ALL laws be repealed immediately.

    Now wouldn’t that provide for an entertaining  couple of weeks?

  • xxxtonygunsxxx

    zimmerman found not guilty×383.jpg&w=480&h=383&ei=BgeXT4C0FeTI0QGE89zeDg&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=463&sig=102456635248648512372&page=19&tbnh=112&tbnw=147&ndsp=14&ved=1t:429,r:10,s:240,i:123&tx=62&ty=31