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(5,818 posts)
Sun Jan 8, 2012, 09:31 AM Jan 2012

Ron Paul on a TABOO subject: racial disparities in criminal justice

Ron Paul on a TABOO subject: racial disparities in criminal justice

On "UP with Chris Hayes this morning", a clip of last night's Republican debate surprised me. In trying to provide cover for his past racist comments under his own name in newlsetters, Ron Paul has has hired an African-American press secretary and praised Martin Luther King. But last night he went further and touched a subject that has been TABOO even for Bill Clinton and Barack Obama: outrageous racial disparities in the criminal "just-us" system (see the statistics below).

Ron Paul pointed out that while African-Americans and Caucasians use drugs such as marijuana at roughly equal rates, African-Americans are several times more likely to be arrested, prosecuted, imprisoned, and imprisoned for long terms, than are Caucasians.

How these disparities come about is a subject that very rarely comes up even on progressive websites such as DU.

WHAT'S YOUR OPINION? DO YOU HAVE GOOD LINKS to explain racial disparities in the criminal justice system?

Here are some of the institutional racism explanations I've heard:

1. On the pretext of "resemblance to crime suspects" and other "reasons" that fall short of probable cause, urban police "stop and frisk" millions of young minorites every year. For example, NYC alone stopped and frisked more than 600,000 people in 2010, up more than 20 percent from prior years. Ten percent of those random acts of police harassment led to arrest, mainly for marijuana possession. See http://topsy.com/twitter/statsandthecity . Blacks go to jail much more often because the police are much more likely literally to be in their pockets!

2. Laws are on the books that increase penalties for crimes that take place within a certain distance from certain institutions such as schools. Researchers have created maps that show only small percentages of urban areas lie outside any circles of that radius drawn around the hundreds of such institutions concentrated where minorities live.

3. Since unemployment rates for African-Americans typically have been DOUBLE those for Caucasians for decades, Black youth are much less likely to have employers who might vouch for them or jurors that would be sympathetic and help get them probation rather than prison.

4. Police, prosecutors, and judges have dramatic political or monetary incentives to achieve high arrest and conviction rates, and minority youth are low-hanging fruit.

5. Free legal aid has been decimated over the last generation.

6. Black families have fewer economic resources of their own with which to combat the legal system. They can't afford good lawyers; they are less likely to have homes and other collateral for bail money, so their sons at higher rates go into court dissheveled and unkempt, directly from jail cells, rather than straight from the barbershop in a three-piece suit.

The result? From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarceration_in_the_United_States :

According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) non-Hispanic blacks accounted for 39.4% of the total prison and jail population in 2009. According to the 2010 census of the US Census Bureau blacks (including Hispanic blacks) comprised 12.6% of the US population.

Hispanics (of all races) were 20.6% of the total jail and prison population in 2009. Hispanics comprised 16.3% of the US population according to the 2010 US census. In 2009 black non-Hispanic males were incarcerated at the rate of 4,749 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents of the same race and gender. White males were incarcerated at the rate of 708 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents. Hispanic males were incarcerated at the rate of 1,822 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents.

The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world (743 per 100,000 population), Russia has the second highest rate (577 per 100,000), followed by Rwanda (561 per 100,000). As of year-end 2009 the USA rate was 743 adults incarcerated in prisons and jails per 100,000 population. At year-end 2007 the United States had less than 5% of the world's population and 23.4% of the world's prison and jail population (adult inmates).

By comparison the incarceration rate in England and Wales in October 2011 was 155 people imprisoned per 100,000 residents; the rate for Norway in May 2010 was 71 inmates per 100,000; Netherlands in April 2010 was 94 per 100,000; Australia in June 2010 was 133 per 100,000; and New Zealand in October 2010 was 203 per 100,000. ...

8 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
Highlight: NoneDon't highlight anything 5 newestHighlight 5 most recent replies
Ron Paul on a TABOO subject: racial disparities in criminal justice (Original Post) ProgressiveEconomist Jan 2012 OP
OOPS! The CORRECT link ProgressiveEconomist Jan 2012 #1
K&R An excellent disruption to the typical Republican BS and more exposure for this issue qb Jan 2012 #2
;still wouldn't trust Ron Paul' ProgressiveEconomist Jan 2012 #6
Good link for Reason #2 in the OP: ProgressiveEconomist Jan 2012 #3
are blacks more patriotic than whites? arely staircase Jan 2012 #4
Very clever comeback, although ProgressiveEconomist Jan 2012 #7
no, he simply said 'no'. and was little puzzled at my question nt arely staircase Jan 2012 #8
For-profit prison corporations and prison-guard unions: IMPORTANT OMISSIONS from Reason #4 ProgressiveEconomist Jan 2012 #5


(5,924 posts)
2. K&R An excellent disruption to the typical Republican BS and more exposure for this issue
Sun Jan 8, 2012, 10:06 AM
Jan 2012

than any Democrat could hope to get.
Mind you, I still wouldn't trust Ron Paul any further than I could throw a car containing him and his pipsqueak son Rand.


(5,818 posts)
6. ;still wouldn't trust Ron Paul'
Reply to qb (Reply #2)
Sun Jan 8, 2012, 11:57 AM
Jan 2012

That goes without saying. But it's pretty ironic that his attempted deceptive cover-up of his racism has broken a taboo on discussing outrageous racial disparities in criminal justice. Minorities have been living in a police state while the political party that relies on their overwhelming support completly ignores their #1 issue.


(5,818 posts)
3. Good link for Reason #2 in the OP:
Sun Jan 8, 2012, 10:14 AM
Jan 2012

From http://www.drugpolicy.org/docUploads/SchoolZonesReport06.pdf :

The motive for the enactment of drug-free zone laws is easy to understand. Lawmakers want to protect children from drug activity by creating a safe harbor around schools and other locations that they might frequent.

Given the fact that nearly every state has adopted some version of a drug-free zone law, many of which have been in place for over a decade, it is surprising that so little effort has been made to assess their impact. Until New Jersey's Sentencing Commission undertook an investigation in 2005, no state had taken a comprehensive look at whether drug-free zone laws actually deter drug activity near schools or at what unintended consequences might result from casting wide zones of prohibition around a long list of institutions and places. ...

the New Jersey state legislature established a sentencing commission in 2004 that made the laws the subject of its first investigation. After more than a year of research and discussion among the Commission's 15 members, who include representatives from law enforcement and all three branches of state government, the Commission came to several startling conclusions:

... First, the Commission found that in urban areas where schools, parks, and public housing developments are numerous and closely spaced, overlapping zones turn entire communities into prohibited zones--erasing the very distinction between school and non-school areas that the law was intended to create.

Second, the Commission found that, by blanketing densely populated black and Hispanic neighborhoods, the laws were creating unwarranted racial disparity in the use of incarceration for people convicted of drug offenses. The Commission termed the result 'devastatingly disproportionate impact on New Jersey's minority community.'

Third, the Commission determined that the laws had failed entirely to accomplish their primary objective of driving drug activity away from schools and schoolchildren. The Commission found that the law had no measurable deterrent effect and was not being used to sanction individuals that sell drugs to children. The results of the New Jersey Sentencing Commission's research should alarm policymakers in other states where drug-free zone statutes are similarly structured. While no other jurisdiction has conducted a similarly comprehensive assessment of its drug-free zone laws, examination of information that is available from localities in other states suggests that the real picture is, if anything, worse than that depicted by New Jersey's commission."

arely staircase

(12,482 posts)
4. are blacks more patriotic than whites?
Sun Jan 8, 2012, 10:20 AM
Jan 2012

if blacks' overrepresentation in prison is proof they are more criminally inclined than whites - wouldn't it follow that their overrepresentation in the military indicates they are more patriotic than whites.

i once asked this of a racist; he said no. didn't give a reason, and still clung to the belief that the prison numbers meant what he said they did.

go figure


(5,818 posts)
7. Very clever comeback, although
Sun Jan 8, 2012, 02:47 PM
Jan 2012

it ignores the more complex and subtle causes of both phenomena.

Did the racist start talking about racial economic disparities and other factors that lead higher proportions of minorities into the military? And ignore them when explaining disparities in incarceration?

arely staircase

(12,482 posts)
8. no, he simply said 'no'. and was little puzzled at my question nt
Sun Jan 8, 2012, 05:22 PM
Jan 2012

edited to say - the guy was a major abuser of methamphetamine.


(5,818 posts)
5. For-profit prison corporations and prison-guard unions: IMPORTANT OMISSIONS from Reason #4
Sun Jan 8, 2012, 10:39 AM
Jan 2012

For-profit prison corporations and prison-guard unions: IMPORTANT OMISSIONS from Reason #4 .

Prison-guard unions in several states have "won" salary schedules much more generous than those of teachers, and they lobby hard for sentencing laws to keep those advantages.

Wikipedia has a good article on the COrractions Corporation of America, one of the biggest lobbyists for stiffer criminal sentencing to enrich their shareholders:

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corrections_Corporation_of_America :

"Lobbying Efforts

Employees of CCA, along with 2,000 state legislators and 250 private and corporate citizens, are active members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC, based in Washington, D.C., is actively engaged in criminal justice discussions in the U.S. Congress as well as state legislatures.

According to the Boston Phoenix, CCA spent more than $2.7 million from 2006 through September 2008 on lobbying for stricter laws. In response to questions about their involvement in lobby efforts, CCA said it does not lobby lawmakers to increase jail time or push for longer sentences under any circumstance, noting that it "educates officials on the benefits of public-private partnership but does not lobby on crime and sentencing policies."

CCA spent $14.8 million lobbying the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Office of Management and Budget, the Bureau of Prisons, both houses of Congress, and others between 2003 and 2010."

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