Kamala Harris: Biden’s VP Pick & Your Next Candidate to Libel Police & Criminal Justice
Pandering for Votes Means Misleading the Public About How Racist & Draconian Law Enforcement Is Today. Will This Prove to Be a Winning Issue for Democrats as Double-Digit Murder Increases Befall 36 of 50 American Cities?
NOTE: This article I drafted in September 2019 as a critique against Sen. Kamala Harris calling for reforms backed by Black Lives Matter in the midst of running for president. I’m finally choosing to publish this piece now that BLM has reached peak popularity — essentially winning the ideological and culture battle for hearts and minds (for now) — and Kamala Harris has just been nominated as the Vice Presidential candidate. A few disclaimers and key points before I share my PITCH and STORY:
- BLM IS COSTING LIVES: Harvard economist Roland Fryer has a new working paper indicating that defunding police can lead to almost 500 additional lives taken a year — which he calculated in just five cities (Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Riverside and Ferguson/St. Louis). Defunding police — or abolishing police, as the New York Times and Washington Post propped up as an idea pushed by some prominent sociologists, who are rightfully questioned — will be a major campaign issue in 2020. I do have a bias after spending hundreds of hours studying this issue: The Ferguson Effect (a.k.a. Viral Video Effect) is real, and it is undoubtedly costing black and brown lives, but few are willing to admit to it due to its political implications. Fryer’s study essentially proved it, but he’s not the only paper in town. The concept is simple: Black Lives Matter rhetoric, along with intense political and media scrutiny, is leading to police pulling back. Thus, costing lives. But you can’t say that. Basically, political correctness and pseudo-religious anti-racism posturing leads to this pro-policing theory to be continually doubted as myth and called out as “racist,” as the Daily Kos did in 2015. And that’s how you get people to stop bringing it up. So while the front-and-center message of Black Lives Matter is that police are a threat to black lives, empirical research shows more police prevents crime and saves black lives. That’s because it’s actually a myth that police have an anti-black bias in shootings. Fryer has published a monumental paper indicating that “blacks are 27.4% less likely to be shot at by police relative to non-black, non-Hispanics.” At the bottom of this article I run data showing 165,000 lives have been saved due to reductions of homicides since the early 1990s, a significant portion coming from adding more police nationwide and locking up criminals. For comparison, 14 unarmed black lives were taken last year by law enforcement along with 25 unarmed white lives.
- POLICE ARE MOSTLY FAIR: Control for violent arrests and resisting arrest and any “per arrest” black-white gap in non-lethal use of force is erased, too. Various graphics below will highlight how “fair” the treatment by police is by race, and how rarely force is used —one study indicating it occurs as few as 1 in 1,167 calls for service. So, no, “White Fragility” author Robin DiAngelo, this garbage rhetoric said by you and numerous others ad nauseum is not true and is entirely mythology: “Who doesn’t know that calling the police on black people risks them being shot?” Are you also often hearing from academia or CNN about how black folks are “three times” more likely to be killed by police than white folks? Well, African Americans are also “eight times more” likely to kill or rob others and “three times more” likely to be arrested, too. These things you almost never hear in the media to provide essential context.
- STUDIES DEFENDING POLICE BEHAVIOR AGAINST CHARGES OF RACISM ARE BEING ATTACKED & DROPPED DUE TO POLITICS: This one is complicated, but simple. A study heavily referenced in my draft article below by Drs. David Johnson and Joseph Cesario, who I both interviewed, got retracted by the authors themselves this summer soon after pro-police advocate Heather Mac Donald used it. It’s been a lightning rod since it came out one year ago, and was argued on Capitol Hill by Mac Donald as evidence that police aren’t terrorizing black people in the U.S. This couldn’t stand. In the same congressional hearing, the paper was attacked by psychologist Phillip Atiba Goff, who blatantly distorted the authors’ positions. (Goff and his obvious biases, intellectual dishonesty, and academic manipulations are made clear in my article here. He pursues social justice more than truth. His omissions are glaring. Naturally, he’s largely unquestioned and platformed by powerful elites from NPR to Google.) In the post-Floyd political environment, this is entirely predictable yet also troubling. In line with their previous studies, as well as several others, the data clearly indicated white cops were not more likely to shoot black suspects, and that race was not a determinant of fatal force by police. Was “cancel culture” and mob rule, which cost a top research position of a Michigan State University peer of Dr. Cesario’s who referenced his work, connected to the retraction? Dr. Cesario clarified that the peer-reviewed paper was not “retracted due to either political pressure or the political views of those citing the paper.” I highly respect Cesario, but I find that hard to believe — their clarifications were slight and they previously vigorously defended their work from what I discern as academic foes with a clear agendas. Cesario’s MSU colleague was “cancelled” by a Twitter mob only weeks before this decision, and it’s no secret academics are keeping their heads down during this 2020 political moment where hard-left positions are being mainstreamed. The chilling bottom line: If you’re going to highlight through rigorous statistical analysis that there might not be racism in policing outcomes, better to stay mum. This will certainly stifle future heterodox studies.
Little Evidence of Racial Bias in Fatal Outcomes with Police, Lots of Evidence the U.S. is Entering a Second Murder Spike in Six Years
FIRST PITCH 9/11/20 TO VARIOUS EDITORS (Quillette, Areo, etc.)
(My later pitches to editors were a tad more unwieldy, thus this article wasn’t published. It would probably need to be cut in half. Everything below is almost word-for-word how I wrote it in September 2019. I was secretly waiting for Kamala Harris to gain prominence again to run it.)
As the 2020 presidential election machinations rev up, crime and justice again are front and center, but in a much different way than 1988 or 1992. Currently, a “progressive wish list of policies” is coming out of major Democratic candidates. The article begins with a Crime Report link on the new DOJ survey (NCVS) data showing an increase in violent crime, which makes it very timely as it relates to Kamala Harris’ new criminal justice and safety plan she floated on Sept 9 (see YouTube clip). Criminal justice researchers Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff and Dr. John Pfaff are also mentioned throughout, and Goff I critique specifically. Their Tweets about the DOJ survey Sept 10 end the article. (Pfaff’s Tweet I’m seeing already made the rounds in this Washington Beacon piece posted shortly after I finished writing: “The Crime Decline Might Be Over.”) This article includes excerpts from my own July taped interviews with professors David Johnson and Joseph Cesario [available upon request], who wrote a new landmark paper showing no racial bias in police use of lethal force. Goff, of course, critiqued it. Much of the word count can be eliminated by shortening the captions, and possibly eliminating the section on Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff (“Questionable Integrity of Researchers & Writers”), cutting down parts of the section “Private Prisons: The Business Bogeymen,” or tightening the last few paragraphs. SUGGESTION: Run story as is or with edits. Contact David if have any questions.
INTRO: The Unpublished Kamala Harris & Criminal Justice Story
The latest DOJ survey (NCVS) report on Tuesday, September 11, showed violent crime is on the rise. It’s telling this came one day after a major presidential candidate offered a plan to change the criminal justice system with a “progressive wish list of policies,” as The New York Times reported, while barely touching public safety concerns like gun violence or sexual assault.
The problem with Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris’ “Plan to Transform the Criminal Justice System and Re-Envision Public Safety in America,” inspired by the new consensus direction of the Democratic party, is how it’s hopelessly tethered to mythology. The most glaring myths are the ones that say policing and the U.S. criminal justice are systemically racist or locking up far too many people for profit. Presidential candidates, especially ones like Harris who’s often derisively called a “cop” as a former prosecutor and attorney general, are especially vulnerable in this “woke” age of obtuseness around policing and crime.
So they end up getting talking points that may not be true, but “feel” right to a certain constituency.
In fact, I wrote earlier this summer about Mayor Pete Buttigieg lying about how blacks are four times as likely as whites to be incarcerated “for the exact same crime.” That’s untrue as it’s white individuals who are more likely to be questioned or arrested by police, according to peer-reviewed research contextualizing criminal involvement. An example of this would be homicide clearance rates reaching dismal record lows in cities with large black communities and the highest murder victim rates.
Joe Biden writes in his criminal justice plan that “Black mothers and fathers should feel confident that their children are safe walking the streets of America,” implying the threat to their safety comes from police. Elizabeth Warren, much to the consternation of Police Chiefs in Massachusetts, famously made the following claim: ‘‘The hard truth about our criminal justice system: It’s racist … I mean front to back.’’ And Beto O’Rourke, desperate for attention, says cops shoot blacks and locks them up “solely based on the color of their skin.”
The question is: Why is the Democratic party still following the false narrative of Black Lives Matter and its acolytes? Truly, the 2020 presidential election is shaping up to be a far cry from 1992’s Bill “No one can say I’m soft on crime” Clinton campaign correcting for the attacks on Michael “Willie Horton” Dukakis in 1988.
What’s severely lacking in our political conversation are some larger truths and honest data analysis.
How does the U.S. have racist police killings when year-after-year the total of blacks killed by police is lower than their rate of arrest? Blacks are 27% of arrests but only 25% of people killed by police almost every year since 2015. Blacks are 43% of police killers, according to a 2015 Washington Post analysis (a story, I might add, that will be left on the dustbin of journalism history). African Americans are responsible for about 55% of all robberies and murders, too, and are under-arrested for those crimes.
Researchers who are benchmarking for crime and not overall population demographics are concluding the same: Police and the criminal justice system isn’t overwhelmingly racist. In fact, when contextualizing for real behavior, there’s almost no racism at all.
New Research, Data Show No Racial Prejudice in Police Shootings & “Bad Shootings” are Rare
In a recent interview I had with Dr. David Johnson who co-authored a rigorous PNAS peer-reviewed paper “Officer characteristics and racial disparities in fatal officer-involved shootings” that largely debunked the Black Lives Matter narrative, he stated, “We found was that a person was much more likely to be fatally shot by an officer of the same race as them. That would be Hispanic individuals shot by Hispanic officers, black civilians were shot by black officers, and white civilians shot by white officers. And the reason for this is most likely not due to racial animus. It’s due to the fact that in cities where you have more black offenders there are more black civilians and more black officers — so it’s demographics that explain those relations. This isn’t a very sexy story. It intuitively makes a lot of sense.”
Johnson also added, “I’m not saying there isn’t any bias in policing, in fact there’s evidence there’s disparities in some policing outcomes. But even if we get rid of all of those we would still see a lot of minority individuals shot by police because of those differences in crime rates.”
Johnson developed the data by following up with the demographics (race, sex, and years of experience) of each of the police officers involved in fatal encounters from the year 2015. This took him and three research assistants more than 1,500 hours to get the information for a single year and compare to Washington Post shooting victim data. No other researcher has done this. The implications are fundamental, especially when Buttigieg apologized profusely on the campaign trail and said he “couldn’t get it done” when it comes to diversifying the police force of South Bend. This study clearly said: It doesn’t matter. It instead states, “These data suggest that increasing racial diversity would not meaningfully reduce racial disparity in fatal shootings.”
Johnson’s colleague and fellow expert on police shootings and the psychology around police officer decisions, Dr. Joseph Cesario, noted that he was “surprised by the high numbers of citizens who have mental health issues and concerns, and who were engaging in suicide by cop.” But he also pointed out about this new study, “We found the same kind of anti-white disparity favoring blacks as we found in our other work as well.”
Indeed, a year earlier Cesario, Johnson and researcher William Terrill reached a clear-cut conclusion: “When adjusting for crime, we find no systematic evidence of anti-Black disparities in fatal shootings, fatal shootings of unarmed citizens, or fatal shootings involving misidentification of harmless objects.” They also added in their supplemental material that racist over-policing isn’t the problem: “Blacks are arrested at about their reported rate of crime, or the odds benchmarked on arrests show greater anti-White bias, suggesting that Blacks are under-arrested given their rate of reported crime.”
Cesario said that given there’s 50 million individuals interacting with police annually, some multiple times, having around 50 killings by police where the victim is unarmed and not attacking, or the officer mistakes a wallet for a gun, is possibly quote low. Or as he calls it a “1 in a million error rate.” Thus, it can be argued that unjustified or “bad shootings” by police are rare and as low as 5% of the total. It is also noteworthy that the majority of those shot in these scenarios are non-Hispanic white.
Predictably, when the article came out, NPR put social justice critics like Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff front and center where he said, “I’m a bit surprised that this made its way into PNAS given what they actually found. It doesn’t do very much to move us towards an understanding of how much are police responsible for racial disparities.”
Goff would soon show up in support of Harris’ plan, as he’s regularly a go-to media friendly voice around the issues of data and policing. He even has a new TED Talk this week that’s already racked up at least 600,000 views. Yet he and others like him tend to omit many key data points. Like the fact that more whites than blacks have at least one contact with police per year. When it comes to three or more contacts per year, blacks are in contact slightly more often.
The larger picture shows that African Americans are not being hunted down by police. But Americans are hunting down each other. In fact, from Chicago to New York City, black Americans are more than three times less likely to be killed by police than previous generations. Yet vast black-white disparities in murder haven’t changed at all.
For at least four decades African Americans have murdered others at a rate 8 times higher than their non-Hispanic white counterparts, and are killed at a rate 6 times greater. In 2016, CDC indicated there were more than 19,500 homicides and The Washington Post reported 234 black killings by police and 465 white killings by police. This means for every 40 blacks killed by fellow citizens, there’s only 1 by a cop. For whites, that ratio is 12:1. But even in August 2019 we get yet another questionable study omitting crime statistics, and incredibly arguing that police are a major threat to the lives of blacks, with this Harvard Kennedy School headline: “Black men 2.5 times more likely than white men to be killed by police, new research estimates.”
People simply need to do the basic math. Or does the math not add up to the social injustices activists, academics, and the media have been portraying?
Kamala Harris’ YouTube Panel: “Let’s Talk About America’s Criminal Justice System”
The reason for these high crime rates stems from poverty and other cultural factors. Yet even when some of the YouTube panelists with Kamala Harris try to say police are being asked to solve problems they didn’t create (Dr. Goff says this at the 7:00 mark concerning mental health) the conversation quickly gets redirected to saying the police are essentially racist and “harass and take up space in poor communities” (D. Watkins at the 8:00 mark).
The YouTube panel the Harris campaign put together reflects what is happening in the larger culture. And echoes its failures. Mostly the guests repeated mantras and rough outlines for solutions that won’t really change the prison population significantly, especially when you dig deeper at the underlying statistics. Social justice advocate Jamira Burley said, “The first thing that comes to mind is to reevaluate how the War on Drugs has impacted communities of color, particularly looking at marijuana and the generational impacts of that.” Then Goff comes in and says vaguely and colorfully that we haven’t “measured justice” in the criminal justice system. Harris’ plan says that in order to end the “failed” War on Drugs, “It begins with legalizing marijuana.”
But we do have some established data and context that questions that path. Marijuana arrests are only 5% of arrests and nearly 50% of people in prison are there for violent crimes — the latter figure Harris does touch on in her plan, and never mentions “guns” or “firearm” violence a single time even though they significantly affect the safety within communities of color. Only around 5% of people in prison are “low level” non-violent drug offenders, and less than 1% of people are even in prison for marijuana possession. What is rarely said is a majority of people in prison for “drugs” are professional drug dealers and gang members. Many of those were pleaded down from more violent offenses.
Critics of this false standard narrative have also shown that if you remove “drug” convictions from state prisons, the black population drops from 37.5% to 37%.
So, Senator Harris, even if you legalize marijuana, what are you going to do with the other 99% in prison to “end the failed War on Drugs” and “mass incarceration”?
We could remove all drug convictions, and the U.S. would still have among the highest incarceration rates in the world. We could remove all people of color from prison, and the U.S. would still top every other developed country for prison rates.
Private Prisons: The Business Bogeymen
And then there’s the dreaded specter of “private prisons,” which members on the political left constantly say is driving mass incarceration when in reality they’re a response to it. Private prisons hold only 8.5% of prisoners, yet activists constantly bray about the greed of for-profit prisons causing large-scale carceral lockups and comparing it to slavery, as the Netflix special “The 13th” speculated. Professor and researcher Dr. John Pfaff wrote in The Washington Post that it’s a complete myth that for-profit institutions are propelling increases in imprisonment, stating instead that, “Most of those in private prisons are held in just five states, and there is no real evidence that prison populations have grown faster in those states than elsewhere.” A 2019 study titled “Do Private Prisons Affect Criminal Sentencing?” answered conclusively, “No,” and said the doubling of private prison capacity raises sentence lengths by only 1.3%, did not increase the likelihood of conviction, nor did they appear to accentuate existing racial biases in sentencing decisions.
Yet when the issue of private prisons is brought up in Harris’ YouTube video, consensus builds in the small group — almost conspiratorially — that “private prisons” are a monstrosity of injustice. Burley said it was “a big concern for a number of people in our [black] community,” without any of those aforementioned facts said. Instead, Harris herself makes this dramatic point in response: “There should never be profit in association with incarceration. Period. Period! How can we call ourselves a civil society, how can we call ourselves a society that values justice, if we have systems in place where people literally make money — profit — off the incarceration of other human beings?”
Impassioned rhetoric, but what does it add up to? I would question the specifics as to how much money business-minded people are making off private prisoners, especially compared to millionaire athletic directors, coaches, or public university presidents. The onus is on the activists and politicians to be specific rather than wax on in vague grandstanding speeches. For example, a recent study in Georgia said private prisons cost the state 10% more than public prisons per prisoner, yet they didn’t determine if legacy costs of pensions for thousands of prison workers were factored in and some of the methodologies are still in question. And if the costs are the same, which are easier to end contracts and close if the government has a concern: Private companies or public institutions? The answer is certainly the former.
It’s also true public employee pension costs and protections — including lobbying to make it harder to discipline public sector correctional officers — may not always be in the interest of those vulnerable to the criminal justice system. As Reason magazine pointed out quoting a Vox writer, “it’s good politics” for people like Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris to be against private prisons, even if their sway over incarceration is minimal.
Polls show Americans are also ignorant in many other areas. For example, 61% of Americans believe half of the prison population are made up of drug offenders when that number is closer to 1 in 5.
9 out of 10 black citizens want the same number or more police in their neighborhoods, according to 2015 Gallup polling. They’re even calling for more police in their communities than white people are. What about those voices? And more importantly, why isn’t that poll ever reported?
Questionable Integrity of Researcher Phillip Atiba Goff & The Center for Policing Equity
Despite the fact that much of the media, including the New York Times, represented the much talked about Center for Policing Equity 2016 study as proof of police racism because of a “statistically significant” gap of use of force taking place in 3.6% of white arrests and 4.6% of black arrests, I believe there’s another interpretation. Well, it’s less of an interpretation as facts presented in plain English in the study itself and ignored by journalists and editors.
The report led by Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff says, “Contrary to the dominant narrative, these analyses reveal that racial disparities persist even when benchmarking on all arrests. Although these disparities dissipate (and even reverse) when controlling for violent Part I arrests, it is noteworthy that 5 of the 12 participating departments (42%) still evidence disproportionate targeting of Black residents when violent arrests are controlled.” Read that again. So does that mean 7 out of 12 departments (58%) show a disproportionate targeting of whites? Yes, that would seem the case.
And did they also say the black-white disparities “reverse” when violent arrests are contextualized? Yes, again.
Clearly the media doesn’t dig deep enough, or suffers from too much confirmation bias, to notice when they’re being fooled by savvy academics. Because The New York Headline says, “Study Supports Suspicion That Police Are More Likely to Use Force on Blacks.” They also quote a Black Lives Matter activist responding to the study’s conceit that American policing is racially biased: “It’s kind of like, ‘Is water wet?’ The evidence is becoming overwhelming and incontrovertible that it is a systemic problem, rather than an isolated one.”
The study also mentions the following fact ignored in other media reports about the Center for Policing Equity study: “There is some suggestive evidence that there are racial disparities in resistance based on research by Smith and colleagues for the National Institute of Justice. They find that the rate of officer injury is lower when arresting a White suspect than a suspect of another racial group (Smith et al., 2009).” Indeed, that sourced study does say, “The results from model 1 also indicate that the odds of officer injury are slightly lower if the suspect was white compared to another racial group.” Plainly stated: The small 3.6% vs. 4.6% black-white gap in all combined arrests can be explained by variables other than racial bias. Basically, blacks are more likely to be arrested for violent crimes, and more often resist arrest, compared to whites.
So when Harris sits down in her YouTube video with activist-writers like D. Watkins of Salon and activist-researchers like professor Goff, one should know how dishonest these individuals have been in the past, and are currently. In the video, D. Watkins says police have not been held accountable because “they protect and serve the rich.” That’s patently false. The reason they’re in poor minority communities (not rich communities) in Chicago, Oakland (where Harris is from), Detroit, and Baltimore is because Democratic mayors and officials want them there. It’s black police chiefs and commanders who are pushing for more patrols in high crime areas. It’s because they’re listening to the black mothers and grandmothers that wants them there, not elites and progressive activists on YouTube and Twitter.
Criminologists like Dr. Goff almost never say arrest rates by race match National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) rates — which reports the percentage of suspects by race and gender. And both those rates also match fatal use of force rates, and are mostly in line with non-lethal force percentages. Media doesn’t make that connection either. Why is that? I argue because stating such facts are intolerable. They would prove the police aren’t racist because they’re arresting and incarcerating populations at nearly the exact rate of crime commission by them. Wagging the finger of “institutional racism” is the only option — and what’s not politically correct to say, as some studies do, is that whites are more likely to be arrested for committing the same crime.
But what if murder rates go up 20%, as they have in the past few years? What if Americans start being informed that the per capita murder rate is higher than anytime since 2007? How is that tolerable?
The media should also dig and point out that Goff has his own biases. I argue he likely misleads the media and fellow researchers by propping up the idea that racial injustice is part and parcel of the criminal justice system even when his own data says otherwise.
Recently, he and his staff of two dozen at the Center for Policing Equity received $5 million from Google to “advance racial and social justice” in policing. The money, and volunteer work from 10 Google software engineers, came to his organization after his landmark Center for Policing Equity study. But in that 2016 study his own data shows that police use of force “reverses” its bias against blacks (i.e. becomes more biased against whites) when violent crimes are contextualized.
It’s also worth noting that this “study” was not peer-reviewed, and had no oversight other than having five PhD-level co-authors. They had complete control at presenting the findings. Almost all the articles focused on the bulk sum differences in use of force incidents, and played down violent crime and per encounter outcomes that would present a surprising result: That cops are mostly fair and do not use force 96.4% of the time with whites and 95.4% of the time with blacks.
Goff is also the kind of researcher who, when talking about others’ work, is quick to question their veracity of their data analysis ability, as he said to NPR about the Cesario and Johnson study: “Racism is not a thing that white people can have and black people can’t. And nobody’s research would suggest that it does. That’s a really wild premise based in no research that no serious scientist should be able to say out loud and then get it published.”
In a USA Today article critiquing Harvard economist Roland Fryer’s landmark analysis on police shootings, Dr. Goff says the paper was conducted “casually” and snidely mentions, “If you haven’t read all of the literature and don’t understand what you’re looking at, you end up in a position that doesn’t look good.” It’s worth noting 50 of Fryer’s colleagues reviewed his work and his Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard was one of the preeminent research labs in the country, before Fryer’s own suspension led to its dissolvement this year. Fryer was also a MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient and once lauded by The Economist as one of the top eight young economists in the world.
Goff doesn’t release his data to other researchers, which Dr. Fryer called him out for in a footnote where he reported that “blacks are 27.4 percent less likely to be shot at by police relative to non-black, non-Hispanics.” Goff also had the audacity to censor — or possibly lie about — his own data with the media, as the The New York Times reported, “The researchers said they did not gather enough data specifically related to police shootings to draw conclusions on whether there were racial disparities when it came to the fatal confrontations between officers and civilians so in the news.” The Center for Policing Equity had nearly complete policing data of 12 major municipalities spanning the nation with populations that range from less than 100,000 to several million. This was about as large a sample as Dr. Fryer’s, whose conclusions came from analyzing police data from Houston, Boston, Camden, Austin, Dallas, Los Angeles, and six Florida counties.
Dr. Goff had the data. Dr. Goff knew. His charts visually show it. He just chose to omit highlighting that finding, despite the fact that several other researchers have found no evidence of racial bias in lethal force in recent years. In fact, Dr. Goff’s report even admitted, “The mean use of force rate for Black citizens was higher than that for White citizens in all categories, save the use of lethal force, when controlling for arrests for all offenses.” How do you say “save the use of lethal force” if you didn’t find blacks aren’t shot more often than whites?
Even Google is out in front of their skis by stating in their Google.org blog post on their partnership with the Center for Policing Equity: “In the year ahead, Google will continue to stand in solidarity with the fight for racial justice.” That “stand in solidarity” links to an official Google Tweet that said immediately in the aftermath of two fateful shootings: “#AltonSterling and #PhilandoCastile’s lives mattered. Black lives matter. We need racial justice now.” It’s worth noting both shootings resulted in juries acquitting the officers involved. It’s also worth noting that the same day of those Google Twetes, July 7, 2016, five white police officers were gunned down in Dallas by a black separatist inflamed by the media drumbeat and rhetoric around black people killed by white cops.
Who wants to bet that if the Center for Policing Equity and Google finds data that exonerates police nationally, they won’t release it?
When police institutions are reluctant to give up their data, this is one of the major reasons why. They know it will be manipulated to make them look bad. This clearly happened at The New York Times, as well as from The Washington Post and PBS. For example, PBS broadcast the following fact without one mention of “arrests” in their video report on the Center for Policing Equity analysis: “Looking at 19,000 incidents between 2010 and 2015, researchers found blacks are 3.5 times more likely than whites to experience use of force.” PBS doesn’t mention arrest rates being around 3 times more and violent arrests being 4 times more because the lead researcher, Goff, isn’t telling them to. He didn’t bother to correct The New York Times when they wrote, “African Americans are far more likely than whites and other groups to be the victims of use of force by the police, even when racial disparities in crime are taken into account.” That line was utterly false, but it was shared widely and cemented as criminal justice gospel.
More Facts Throw Water on the Mass Incarceration Racism Narrative
There’s also a lot of talk in Harris’ plan about “ending” things. She wants to end mandatory minimums and the federal crack and powder cocaine disparity (which Obama already modified). She also wants to increase use of clemency and reform community supervision. All this may be fine and well.
But some facts tend to throw water on the idea we’re incarcerating too many people for too long.
According to The National Review reporting about prosecutors in 2019, average time served isn’t exactly lengthy. They wrote: “For all prisoners released in 2016, the median time served was only 1.3 years; the mean was 2.6 years. For violent offenders the median was 2.4 years, the average 4.7 years.” They’re not wrong, despite the many who like to use this common pushback, “Well, it’s a conservative, right-wing source.” The data exactly mirrors what The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in 2018. Conservatives can report data, too, it seems. In fact, sometimes they’re the only ones willing to present certain facts.
Sometimes, progressive outlets leak out information that’s revealing and upends the narrative that we’re too harsh on those that commit crimes.
According to statistics put out by the anti-sexual violence organization RAINN, for every 1000 criminal incidents, only a small % lead to serving jail time:
- .5% of rapes lead to incarceration
(23% were reported to police)
- 2% of robberies lead to incarceration
(62% were reported to police)
- 3.3% of assault/battery incidents lead to incarceration
(63% were reported to police)
- 10% of rape arrests lead to incarceration
- 12% of robbery arrests lead to incarceration
- 13% of assault/battery arrests lead to incarceration
These are true and accurate statistics. Any honest cop, prosecutor, or defense attorney will tell you that serving time often comes after a long rap sheet of felony and misdemeanor offenses — and many more crimes that they never got arrested for. But that’s rarely mentioned by the media or the Democratic party today. Just like, again, how blacks are not more likely to be arrested for most crimes. Or this little known fact: Americans are arrested at least 5–10 times before serving time.
The U.S. Bureau of Justice states it plainly: “On average, offenders released from federal prison had fewer prior arrests (5.6) than those released from state prison (10.8).”
The fact it took me years to find that statistic, which I overtly searched for, may be an indicator of how mainstream press and elites are trying to hide it. It should be easily searchable. Only by asking criminal justice writer for City Journal Rafael A. Mangual on a Twitter thread for it did I finally receive this Holy Grail of crime stats proving it’s repeat offenders who serve time.
Virtually no one even makes a token attempt to laud the criminal justice system for keeping violent crime significantly low for 20-plus years. If anything, the criminal justice system and those that serve it are continually vilified as upholding “white supremacy” and racism with no solid evidence — and practically no one on the political left argues it may actually be racist to not provide justice and peace of mind to violence and property crime victims, which are disproportionately people of color. Maybe they should. Especially when 1 in 50 robberies lead to actual jail time.
Why does the rhetoric and sympathy of the Democratic party lie with offenders and not the victims? Which black lives are Black Lives Matter saving? The number of unarmed and non-aggressive shootings of black individuals was as low as 23 in 2016 (for whites it was 34), but the total increase of black murders from 2014 to 2016 resulted in more than 1,500 dead bodies. CDC puts the total of black Americans killed at close to 10,000 while the FBI puts it closer to 8,500.
Most rational people can see a 1,500 person annual black murder increase is worse than two dozen killed by accident, fear or negligence (and in extremely rare cases, hostility) by law enforcement. It’s doubly tragic if any part of that increase is coming from de-policing.
If a candidate wants to be a true leader, they would pay heed to the fact most Americans want to feel safe, they want honest data, and they want fairness. To do so they’ll need to rid themselves of the anti-mass incarceration movement that at best won’t change the system very much. And at worst it will spiral the U.S. down another crime wave experienced from the late 1960s to the early 1990s, which disproportionately hurt and brutalized the poorest Americans. One can measure the lives saved since the 1994 Crime Bill was passed, and it would fill Lambeau Field in Wisconsin twice over with a total of 165,000 lives.
Crime trends can change quickly, and we may be in the midst of one. Strong political candidates must ignore people like Dr. Goff who when upon hearing about the latest NCVS data on September 10, chose to Tweet his virtue around the #MeToo movement rather than take seriously the cost of violent crime increasing. Even Dr. Pfaff on Twitter is questioning the framing by the U.S. Department of Justice who stated plainly: “The longstanding general trend of declining violent crime in the United States, which began in the 1990s, has reversed direction in recent years.” One could easily argue his reputation depends on always siding with the anti-incarceration crowd in academia, thus explaining his caution even while being honest about how the War on Drugs isn’t driving prison rates.
Critics often talk about the civil rights of individuals exposed to the criminal justice system. But what if we view safety of the poorest among us as a civil right. It’s the tension of those two forces that may determine the future of electoral politics and policy.