Truth of the matter based on Justice Department & FBI Statistics in that Violent crime, not drugs "use", has driven up imprisonment rates. And drug offenses usually are for DEALING DRUGS and not just for being apprehended with some. Not for using.It has become a boogeyman in public discourse: “mass incarceration.” Both left and right, from Hillary Clinton to Rand Paul, agree that it must be ended. But a close examination of the data shows that U.S. imprisonment has been driven largely by violent crime—and thus significantly reducing incarceration may be impossible.
Less than one-half of 1% of the U.S. population is incarcerated, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), so “mass” is a bit of hyperbole. The proportion of African-Americans in prison, 1.2%, is high compared with whites (0.25%), but not in absolute terms.
There’s a lot of historical amnesia about the cause of prison expansion, a mistaken sense that it was all about drugs or race and had very little to do with serious crime. This ignores the facts. Between 1960 and 1990, the rate of violent crime in the U.S. surged by over 350%, according to FBI data, the biggest sustained buildup in the country’s history.
One major reason was that as crime rose the criminal-justice system caved. Prison commitments fell, as did time served per conviction. For every 1,000 arrests for serious crimes in 1970, 170 defendants went to prison, compared with 261 defendants five years earlier. Murderers released in 1960 had served a median 4.3 years, which wasn’t long to begin with. By 1970 that figure had dropped to 3.5 years.
Unquestionably, in the last decades of the 20th century more defendants than ever were sentenced to prison. But this was a direct result of changes in policy to cope with the escalation in violent crime. In the 1980s, after well over a decade of soaring crime, state incarceration rates jumped 107%.
When crime began to drop in the mid-1990s, so did the rise in incarceration rates. From 2000 to 2010, they increased a negligible 0.65%, and since 2005 they have been declining steadily, except for a slight uptick in 2013. The estimated 1.5 million prisoners at year-end 2014 is the smallest total prison population in the U.S. since 2005.
Those who talk of “mass incarceration” often blame the stiff drug sentences enacted during the crack-cocaine era, the late 1980s and early ’90s. But what pushed up incarceration rates, beginning in the mid-1970s, was primarily violent crime, not drug offenses.
The percentage of state prisoners in for drug violations peaked at only 22% in 1990. Further, drug convictions “explain only about 20% of prison growth since 1980,” according to a 2012 article by Fordham law professor John Pfaff, published in the Harvard Journal on Legislation.
Relatively few prisoners today are locked up for drug offenses. At the end of 2013 the state prison population was about 1.3 million. Fifty-three percent were serving time for violent crimes such as murder, robbery, rape or aggravated assault, according to the BJS. Nineteen percent were in for property crimes such as burglary, car theft or fraud. Another 11% had been convicted of weapons offenses, drunken driving or other public-order violations.
That leaves about 16%, or 208,000 people, incarcerated for drug crimes. Of those, less than a quarter were in for mere possession. The rest were in for trafficking and other crimes. Critics of “mass incarceration” often point to the federal prisons, where half of inmates, or about 96,000 people, are drug offenders. But 99.5% of them are traffickers. The notion that prisons are filled with young pot smokers, harmless victims of aggressive prosecution, is patently false.
The other line of attack is that the criminal justice system is racist because blacks are disproportionately imprisoned. About 35% of all prisoners, state and federal, are African-American, while blacks comprise about 13% of the U.S. population. But any explanation of this disparity must take blacks’ higher rates of offending into account.
From 1976 to 1995, blacks were identified by police as the perpetrators in more than half of homicides, according to FBI data compiled by the BJS. During this same period, individuals interviewed for the national crime-victim survey described robbery perpetrators as black more than 60% of the time. While the rate of black violent crime fell dramatically after the mid-1990s, it remains disturbingly high. From 2000 to 2014, African-Americans were murdered eight times as often as whites per capita, nearly always as a result of black-on-black assaults.
Such serious crimes are still the main driver of African-American incarceration. The latest BJS figures, from the end of 2013, show that 57% of blacks in state prison were convicted of violent crimes. Only 16% were in for drug crimes. Those numbers nearly match the figures for the state prison population overall.
Nor have blacks always served longer sentences than whites once incarcerated. In 1993, at the peak of the prison buildup, blacks and whites in state prison served identical terms, a median 12 months, for all offenses. For drug crimes, whites actually served slightly more time than blacks, 12 months to 11 months.
A growing consensus now supports making the criminal-justice system less punitive. But prison rates won’t drop dramatically unless serious crime declines further, which is unlikely. It certainly didn’t happen in 2015, when homicides in the 50 largest U.S. cities increased 17%. Nor are racial disparities likely to diminish so long as African-Americans commit a disproportionate number of violent crimes.
Mr. Latzer, an emeritus professor of criminal justice at the City University of New York, is the author of “The Rise and Fall of Violent Crime in America” (Encounter Books, 2016).
There's a Reason We Mostly Hear About White 'Micro-Aggressions'
And yet the public is being told by The New York Times, The Washington Post, MSNBC and Salon that the Charleston massacre is proof that we live in a country packed with marauding racist murderers. It’s like saying we have an epidemic of men flying gyrocopters onto Capitol Hill. Yes, there’s that one time, but I notice you keep citing the same case.
In The Washington Post, for example, columnist Lonnae O'Neal blamed the Charleston attack on “white supremacy,” claiming that “racial sickness is all around us.” (I guess the one upside of the horror in South Carolina is that we can FINALLY have a national conversation about race.)
The media’s WHITES ARE TERRORIZING BLACKS campaign reflects reality as accurately as the media’s other campaign, WHITE MALE COLLEGE STUDENTS ARE RAPING EVERYTHING IN SIGHT!
In a country of more than 300 million people, everything will happen eventually. That doesn’t make it a trend. Go up to any ordinary, sentient person and ask: Which race assaults the other race more?
Remember the “knockout game” — or as its devotees called it, “polar bear hunting”? Black teenagers would go looking for white people to knock unconscious with a single punch, videotape the attacks and post them online. The knockout game was a real trend — which the media denied was a trend.
Just last month, we saw videos of white reporters from the Daily Caller being mugged by black men in Baltimore.
Ask around. You might be surprised at how many whites you know have been physically attacked by a black person at least once in their lives.
Ordinary people keep hearing that we are in the middle of an epidemic of white-on-black violence and think, Surely the media wouldn’t be making this up, so I must be misinformed.
According to a preposterously, laughably, ridiculously bogus report on “hate crimes” produced by Eric Holder’s Justice Department, blacks are far more likely to be victims of hate crimes than whites are. It would be like a government report asserting that most rapes are committed by elderly white women.
Holder’s DOJ got to the desired outcome by:
(1) Defining “hate crime” only as those in which the perp uses a racial epithet.
(Because that’s what people fear most: I don’t mind getting the crap kicked out of me — as long as no one calls me a “cracker”!)
(2) Defining Hispanic perpetrators as “white.”
(Yes, according to our federal government, Hispanics are “Hispanic” when they are victims of crimes, but “white” when they are the perpetrators.)
(3) Defining less than 0.1 percent of all violent crimes as “hate crimes.”
(According to the FBI’s detailed crime victimization report, there were about 1.2 million violent crimes in 2012, but Holder’s Justice Department characterized less than 1,000 of those as “hate crimes.”)
The FBI’s crime victimization surveys tell a very different story, one more in line with a normal person’s life experience.
In 2008, the most recent year for which such data seems to have been collected, FBI surveys show that, out of 520,161 interracial violent crimes, blacks committed 429,444 of them against whites, while whites committed 90,717 of them against blacks.
In other words, blacks commit more than 80 percent of all interracial violent crime.
Going for the element of surprise, columnist Brit Bennett recently complained in The New York Times that “white violence is unspoken and unacknowledged” by the media.
Yes, I barely heard a thing about such alleged white-on-black crimes as: Tawana Brawley (hoax), the Duke lacrosse gang rape (hoax), Trayvon Martin (self-defense), Ferguson (hoax) and Eric Garner (justified police arrest). Other than the wall-to-wall, 24/7 coverage for months on end, there was barely a peep out of the media about these cases.
The media will pounce on any suspicion of a white-on-black crime, spend a year being hysterical about it, and, if it turns out to be a false alarm, refuse to apologize, before quickly moving on to the next hoax.
The Charleston church shooting is the first case in a very long time in which blacks really were targeted by a white person because of their race (and had the misfortune of being in a gun-free zone). Even Bennett had to reach back to stories her grandmother told her about the Ku Klux Klan (100 percent Democratic) to come up with a previous example of whites terrorizing blacks.
The Charleston attack was a hideous, sickening crime. But that’s why we should thank our lucky stars that it was so unusual. White-on-black violence is freakishly rare everywhere in America, except liberal imaginations.
COPYRIGHT 2015 ANN COULTER