Arrests in America (Fuzzy Math)
Arrest by race, 2000 in America
Total Arrests: 9,068,977
Total Violent Crime Arrests: 414,420
In the all arrest category:
Whites were arrested in 6,324,006 cases, at 69.7%
Blacks were arrested in 2,528,368 cases, at 27.9%
Other races were arrested in 216,603 cases, at 2.3%
In the violent crime arrest category (statistics do not include conviction rate, unsolved murders, or missing persons):
Whites were arrested in 248,167 cases, at 59.9%
Blacks were arrested in 156,718 cases, at 37.8%
Other races were arrested in 9,535, at 2.3%
Broken down in specific crime arrests:
Whites were arrested in 4,231 cases, at 48.7%
Blacks were arrested in 4,238 cases, at 48.8%
Other races were arrested in 214 cases, at 2.3%
Forcible rape (rape statistics do not include child molestation or statutory rape):
Whites were arrested in 11,381 cases, at 63.7%
Blacks were arrested in 6,089 cases, at 34.1%
Other races were arrested in 389 cases, at 2.2%
Whites were arrested in 31,921 cases, at 44.2%
Blacks were arrested in 38,897 cases, at 53.9%
Other races were arrested in 1,331 cases, at 1.8%
Whites were arrested in 200,634 cases, at 63.5%
Blacks were arrested in 107,494 cases, at 34.0%
Other races were arrested in 7,601 cases, at 1.4%
Property Crime Arrest Category: Total Arrests 1,076,844
Whites were arrested in 713,331 cases, at 66.2%
Blacks were arrested in 333,565 cases, at 31.0%
Other races were arrested in 7,601 cases, at 1.4%
In recent years, crime in America has decreased; however, the arrest by race margin remains pretty much the same, whites outnumber blacks; but according to property crime statistics (FBI uniform crime reports, crime in the U.S. 2000), blacks have made up the majority of the increase in our prison population. “Between 1990 and 2001, the number of blacks behind bars jumped from 360,000 to 622,200, and increase of 73%.” It is reported that black men (at 28.5%) are six times more likely than are white men (at 4.4%) to be imprisoned.
Based on statistics, violent crimes (murder rate) are relatively close between the races; but whites have over a 3 to 1 margin over blacks in the total violent crime category, and maintain a wider margin over blacks in the property crime category. With blacks only accounting for 14.2% of the state of Michigan’s total population, and whites 80.2%. Statistically speaking, whites should be at least 2 to 1 majority in Michigan’s prison population; but they’re not.
A disproportion of black prisoners is crontrary to available statistics. With whites out numbering blacks in the arrest category, the courts, parole, and probation systems are suspect and should be thoroughly examined. By implementing sentencing guidelines, Michigan’s legislatures eliminated bias in the sentencing practices of some judges; however, if a prosecutor so chooses, there are no checks or balances to prevent him or her from exclusively over charging blacks in criminal cases (i.e., instead of charging a black person with a five-year felony, it’s increased to a ten-year felony), which nullifies the legislative intent and translates into a longer sentence for blacks. Michigan also has a habitual offender statute. If a person has been convicted of two felonies (regardless of the time span, even if it’s two felonies over a 75 year period), a prosecutor can supplement a defendant, or use the threat of supplement to force a defendant to plea bargain, and actually plead guilty to an increased charge. This is a common practice in the state of Michigan, and here again, translates into longer sentences and more convictions. Since the decision to supplement rests solely with a prosecutor, he or she could supplement mostly black defendants. Who’s to know?
If blacks receive less paroles and probation than whites, who’s to know? And who’s minding the score? According to a 2000 Bureau of Justice statistics, there were over 3.8 million people on probation and another 725,527 were on parole in America in 2000. The figures are not broken down by race; but the numbers are sufficient; and subject o abuse, could easily create a disproportionate prison population of black prisoners.
African-Americans have long held that there’s a concerted effort among prison officials and prosecutors to keep America’s prisons over crowded with African-Americans. The reported actions of California’s guards’ union, gives credence to those concerns. According to a Newsweek, August 20, 2000 story, “Correctional Peace Officer’s Association (the prison guards’ union) has made building more prisons its signature issue.” “The union pumped more than two million dollars into the 1998 campaign of Gov. Gray Davis, a tough-on-crime Democrat, who quickly signed legislation authorizing 525 million in new prison construction.” The guards’ union also opposed California’s proposition 36, a sweeping initiative (passed by voters) requiring treatment instead of imprisonment for an estimated 36,000 drug users (which took effect on July 1, 2001).
Project Exile has shipped off thousands of blacks to serve long terms in Federal prisons. In a May 31, 1999 Associated Press story by Dominic Perella, then President Bill Clinton, praised Project Exile, “as a national model for fighting gun violence.” Project Exile works this way: if a convicted felon is caught carrying a gun, local prosecutors drop the state case (which carries five years), and let the Federal prosecutors press charges (that carry 15 years to life). In the same Associated Press story, David Baugh, a local Richmond, Virginia attorney, said “Project Exile is illegal because it affects blacks almost exclusively.” And Richmond’s three U.S. District judges agreed in part with Attorney Baugh. In a January 1999 opinion, the court ruled, “where as Project Exile wasn’t unconstitutional; but did have a disproportionate impact on blacks.”
The underlying problem is simple: prosecutors decide which defendants are subject to the 15 years to life penalty. And statistics demonstrate, local prosecutors, in more cases than not, target inner city defendants—usually black, for Project Exile (15 years to life), while defendants from outlying counties—usually white, face only state prosecution (5 years) for committing the same crime. Nonetheless, Project Exile type programs are gaining popularity in America.
Miami, Florida has a Withhold of Adjudication. This is a tool Florida judges and prosecutors can use at their discretion that allows felony offenders to avoid a conviction. As reported by the Miami Herald January 26 through January 30, 2004 series called Justice Withheld, “receiving a withhold allows you to legally say, you have never been convicted of a crime, even though a court found you guilty.” In theory, withholds are handed out sparingly to supposedly deserving people in extenuating circumstances; but the Herald found, in practice, Withhold of Adjudications “are handed out like Halloween candy.” “Four-time losers can get withholds.” “Rapists and car thieves get withholds.” “Drug dealers and batterers get withholds.” And if you “commit fraud or forgery, you’ve got an even chance of getting one.” “Abuse or molest a child and your chances are actually better than even.” The Herald also found that the folks enjoying all of that judicial mercy are predominately white defendants. A study of the procedure showed, “if a black defendant commits the same crime and has the same record as a white defendant, the white defendant is 50 percent more likely to get a withhold.” When confronted by the Herald, in defense of the procedure, some people said, “the disparity in black and white defendants, is not a function of judicial racism; but of socio-economics,” meaning, whites are more often able to afford private attorneys and less likely to have to rely on some overburdened public defender; however, Leonard Pitts, a columnist for the Miami Herald, reported in a February 1, 2004 article, “even when you adjust for type of attorney, with a private lawyer, black defendants are still much less likely to receive withholds.” Mr. Pitts’ solution is: “blacks should stop being such good customers of the American injustice system.”
On the one hand, with the deck stacked against them in court, African-Americans and minorities who commit crimes, are their own worst enemy; but on the other, African-American (political and community) leaders appear to have bought into the myth, that blacks commit more crimes than whites; therefore, more blacks should be incarcerated than whites. The apathy of people in African-American communities to demand change, is indicative of seeing too much black on black violence. But none of that justifies convicting innocent people, over charging defendants, withholding evidence, and discriminating against defendants.
The root cause: Prosecutors. Short of pulling a gun and committing murder themselves, prosecutors have total immunity. Immunity to: bend the truth, stretch the truth, hide the truth, withhold evidence, encourage a witness to lie, and to knowingly put a lying witness on the stand to testify against a defendant. In fact, it is easier to convict a defendant by violating the Constitution, than by complying with it. In a lot of cases, it’s impossible to convict a person without violating the Constitution (as was discovered when the Innocent Project in New York, proved 13 Illinois death row prisoners were innocent, that led to then Illinois Gov. George Ryan, placing a moratorium on executions and the ultimate release of some death row prisoners, January 2003). Almost all police at some point lie about whether they violated the Constitution in order to convict a defendant. A February 22, 2004, The Michigan Citizen front-page story, places emphasis on that very important point.
Eighteen Detroit police officers allegedly repeatedly violated the Constitution of black defendants, by planting evidence, lying and beating up on people. In 2005, eight officers were found not guilty, and two officers, Troy Bradley and Nicole Rich, have pled guilty in the case and testified against their co-defendants.
There is no doubt it exists. The only question is how wide spread is the practice of violating the Constitution of African-American defendants? No one knows for sure; but prosecutors, judges and police will have us believe, each discovery is an “isolated incident”, yet the frequency of these discoveries, indicate otherwise. Defense Attorney (and Harvard University Law Professor, and form O.J. Simpson lawyer), Alan Dershowitz, said, “many prosecutors implicitly encourage police to lie about whether they violated the Constitution in order to convict a defendant.” And in his book “The Rules of the Justice Game,” Mr. Dershowitz added, “most trial judges pretend to believe police and prosecutors who they know are lying.” This is not an indictment against all prosecutors, judges or police; but it’s imperative to understand, over all, the reality of justice for African-Americans, is merely an attempt to pretend there can be law and order and fairness in a greedy and bias society. A person having a racist mentality, or sadistic personality, couldn’t ask for a better position than the status of prosecutor, judge or policeman. The police in the O.J. case is an excellent example. One in particular, Mark Fuhrman was bad, racist and corrupt, having him on the case, contributed to a not guilty verdict for O.J. Simpson; but most defendants can’t afford high power lawyers to uncover corrupt police in criminal cases. This is one reason why the O.J. Simpson case has become the poster child of the exception to the judicial rule.
It is undeniable that race is the main factor in whether or not the death penalty is applied, whether that person will be pulled over by the state police on our highways, and how that person will be treated by our judicial system; and poverty is the second criteria for mistreatment, and because state appointed lawyers usually, leisurely defend their clients, an indigent defendant doesn’t stand a snowball in hell chance in a courtroom, and some times, that is enough to put an innocent person in jail. In fact, Amnesty International says, “one in every one hundred people incarcerated in America, are innocent.” Between 1977 and 2003, a number of innocent people were discovered on our nation’s death row. We can only imagine how many innocent people were executed, or have died while serving excessive sentences.” Michigan has roughly 50,000 prisoners. Using Amnesty International figures, over four hundred innocent people are serving time in Michigan alone. In 2001, America had 1,406,031 people in prison (the figure is probably higher now) and of those, one in every one hundred are innocent.
In California, there’s a three strike law, and if your third offense (over a 50 year period) happens to involve stealing a loaf of bread, or being caught with an unregistered gun in your home, you’ll receive an automatic life sentence. Michigan has a habitual offender statute, and almost every state has a special get tough on crime campaign. On the surface, these programs (especially when viewed separately) look good; but collectively, they tell a much different story, because each campaign tends to target African-Americans and send them off to fill new prisons, and provide jobs for people in rural areas. From the cradle to the grave in America, race matters, and as it relates to crime, more whites are arrested than blacks; but more blacks are in prison. The math is definitely fuzzy, and our nation’s court, parole, and probation system deserves closer inspection.
Note: In 2003, California voters recalled Gov. Gray Davis. Source for arrest by race statistics, increase of blacks behind bars between 1990 and 2001, and the total number 1,406,031 people incarcerated, come from the New York Times Almanac 2003 edition.