The Myth of Racism in Criminal Justice

Addressing Assertions of Racism in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement 

People’s perception of reality is chosen, and their chosen realities are vastly different from objective reality.  They do not know the difference between a fact and opinion.  Most people accept opinions as facts with little to no understanding of the subject the opinion pertains to, and assert opinion as if it is fact.    

Race is an ever popular issue because fake social justice warriors, politicians, and other organizations have personal interests in advancing the idea that racism is prevalent.  If there is an interracial interaction they don’t feel the need to qualify what in the interaction reveals racial movtivation.  The mere fact that one person was one race and the other person is another is enough to claim treatment is racially motivated.  Someone says an act is racist, people print stories expressing this opinion, and the public accepts it as fact.  Then it becomes a fact of public perception when they repeat it to one another.  No one bothers to ask the question of how an act is racist, they’re just happy to use it as a piece of evidence that racism is a problem to justify their opposition to it.  When a person presents evidence that an act is not racist, or asks how an act was motivated by race, then that person becomes a racist for not accepting the opinion as fact.    

They’ve taken pre civil rights act rhetoric and are applying it 5 decades later when it is no longer applicable.  There are some who think the death of George Floyd represents police racism.  In 18 minutes worth of footage including some audio, there is nothing to suggest that Floyd was treated any differently than they would have treated a white suspect who behaved the same way.  As far as I know no one has put forth an explanation as to how Floyd’s treatment was racially motivated.  

Others claim George Floyd is not an example of racism itself but imply it generally represents how law enforcement interacts with black people. You’re claiming an event indirectly represents how law enforcement treats black suspects without providing any evidence or example for the claim that law enforcement treats black suspects differently.  If you have an example what does that example represent in terms of a problem?  50 million police contacts per year (1) and you have 1 example?  You have 10 examples?  Even if you have 100 examples, 100 out of 50 million contacts means these are exceptional happenings.  It does not represent a problem beyond the enforcement of the law where applicable.      

1: Elizabeth Davis, Anthony Whyde, BJS Statisticians, Lynn Langton Ph.D., former BJS Statistician, 10/11/2018 “Contact Between the Police and Public, 2015”.  Bureau of Justice Statistics.  https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=6406

Black people and those who have an interest in advancing ideas of racial disadvantage will say white people don’t know how the police treat black people.  This suffices for upper middle and upper class white people who tend not to have their own exposure to law enforcement to draw from.  This group as well as black people and black advocacy groups don’t know how white people are treated by police officers when we resist.  By your same logic, you have nothing to compare your experience to because you don’t know how police treat white people.  Last year Tim Timpa was restrained by police and died as a result. (2)  Since he’s white, although there was some national coverage it wasn’t promoted as a great injustice and less people were concerned.  It isn’t about the excessive use of force by the police.  Another incident only a few months back a white man named Arial Roman was unarmed, was resisting arrest but was not violent towards the officers and he was shot twice, including once in the back as he tried to escape.  There was a protest scheduled for this incident but reporters on location noted that no one showed up.  People’s sense of justice varies according to the victim, and it seems to be racially motivated, and not against black people.  

2: WFFA Channel 8 ABC News “Raw Video.  Officer Dustin Dillard’s Body Cam Shows in Custody Death of Tim Timpa”.  Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6X4PUwrq8tA

People turn on the news or log in to their social media and see another video or another story that is presented for the appearance of racially motivated excessive force by police.  Even if the claim is taken at face value, if there was a new event everyday what would that represent?  365 out of 50 million?  You’re observing an exception and perceiving it as the norm.  The issue with roach approach speculation, that for every one you’ve seen there’s 100 that you haven’t, is the examples you provide do not even serve as examples of the problem because you cannot show that race motivated the treatment.  If the treatment itself is exclusive to black people, then there would be no examples of the same treatment of white suspects.  Otherwise, to claim treatment is motivated by a suspect’s race requires that the officer reveal that motivation during the course of the arrest and you never have that.

Law enforcement are tasked with enforcing the law which includes arresting people who break the law.  Do you know how many people want to go to jail?  Zero, with maybe some rare exceptions for homeless people.  Officers are required to use force on a daily basis.  There is no way to eliminate the appearance of excessive force before a public who is both ignorant of what force is required for what circumstance, and is also looking to present the appearance of excessive force as excessive force.  The amount of force that is required to gain compliance is any amount of force that does not result in any long term injury.  More force can be used if gaining the suspects compliance has implications for the suspects safety, the officer’s safety, or public safety.   

Not only is it impossible to eliminate the appearance of excessive force, it is impossible to eliminate excessive force itself, unless suspects do not resist. The volume of incidents where force is required is going to lead to mistakes in application.    

Officers who exhibit a pattern of behavior will be weeded out of the force.  Many would claim that officers are not weeded out and cite officer Chauvin as an example, where 17 previous complaints only resulted in 1 letter of reprimand.  He’s been a law enforcement officer for 19 years.  52 weeks per year, 25 contacts per week presuming on a 5 per day average, and in a year’s time he has 1300 contacts with the public.  He has less than 1 complaint per year, for ease of math, 1 complaint per year means his conduct is such that 1 out of 1300 interactions have produced a complaint.  Many complaints are frivolous.  

BuzzFeed, who makes no effort to conceal their bias, interviewed Kristoper Bergh who filed a complaint against Chauvin in 2013. (3)  The complainant said they were shooting nerf guns at targets and had the guns in their hands.  He claimed the officers approached with their guns drawn and commanded them to put their hands up and to get into the car.  Another passenger claimed the other officer had his gun pointed 2 feet from his face, but didn’t remember if Chauvin had his gun drawn.  The third passenger couldn’t remember if either of the officer’s guns were drawn, which casts a great deal of doubt on the claims since having guns pulled on you is not a detail you would forget if it happened.  Even if the officer did have their guns drawn what did they hear from dispatch?  Was it a report of someone with nerf guns in the park or someone with guns in the park?  It is a question relevant to the assertion that the police were inappropriate for having their guns out.  I tend to believe the member of the group who did not remember if the police had their guns out since it is a detail you’d be unlikely to forget.  

3: Tasneem Nashrulla 5/29/2020 “Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin Had 17 Complaints Against Him Before He Was Charged with George Floyd’s Murder”.  BuzzFeed https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/tasneemnashrulla/minneapolis-derek-chauvin-history-of-complaints-george-floyd  

The complainant goes on to say if it wasn’t for his white privilege, the police would have shot him.  He said when he got home his mom told him if it was one of his black friends it may have turned out differently.  This assessment is based on what?  Was it based on the example of 17 year old Hannah Linn Williams, a white teenage girl who was shot by police for pointing a fake gun at the officer? (4)  Even in that incident, people’s bias against the police was so strong that they were against the officer on the grounds that it is “a fake gun”.  As if there is a way to distinguish a fake gun from a real gun when a person has taken up a shooter position against you.  

4: SEAN EMERY, NATHANIEL PERCY and TONY SAAVEDRA 7/12/2019 “Fullerton Police Release Video of Officer Shooting of 17 Year Old Girl.”  Mercury News  https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/07/12/fullerton-police-release-video-of-officer-shooting-17-year-old-girl/

The Prison Policy Initiative cites a Brookings Study that examined 3 million people that found “boys born into families at the bottom 10% of the income distribution are 20 times more likely to experience prison in their 30’s than their peers born into the top 10%.”  As income levels rise, the prospect of becoming incarcerated decreases.  The study also found “that three years prior to incarceration, only about 49% of working-age people are employed, typically making less than $15,000 a year.”  We have clear correlations between the income level of the family you’re born into and incarceration, unemployment and incarceration, and low-income and incarceration. (5)

5: Lucius Couloute, March 22, 2018, “New Data Highlights Pre-Incarceration Disadvantages”.  Prison Policy Initiative.  https://www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2018/03/22/brookingsreport_2018/  

This means in order to compare the effect of race we first must account for income between race, which I will clarify momentarily.  The report also states “those who end up in prison disproportionately come from disadvantaged communities of color with high levels of poverty and unemployment.”  Do people who end up in prison end up there because they are from communities of color or because these communities are impoverished and have higher unemployment rates?  We already know poverty and unemployment predisposes people to ending up in prison.  

There are 197 million white people.  9% are living in poverty (which is not my definition of poor but it will suffice for these purposes).  18,080,900 Living in poverty.  There are 47 million black people in the United States and 22% are living in poverty, which is 8,647,800. (6) Some assert that this discrepancy of poverty proportions represents racism.  It does, but not racism present, racism past.  Past systemic racism not only slavery but pre-civil rights act discrimination prevented black people from accessing educational opportunities, employment opportunities, housing opportunities, opportunities for services, and other opportunities that would position them to accumulate wealth and pass that wealth to their progeny.  Today there are no systemic racial barriers.  There are class barriers based on the nature of the economic system, where today, black people are disproportionately financially disadvantaged because opportunity is best determined by money.  This includes not only the advantages of the money itself but also the quality of environment to develop interests and skills.  

6: Kaiser Family Foundation, 2018 “Poverty Rate by Race/Ethnicity” https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/poverty-rate-by-raceethnicity/?dataView=1&currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

Why are there poor white people?  If your wages are roughly equal to your expenses, when you die, you don’t have anything to pass down to your progeny.  Whether you are disadvantaged because you come from people who had limited opportunities because of systemic racism, or you are disadvantaged because you come from families who have limited opportunities because they were poor, either way, today we are the descendants of poor people.  Instead of recognizing class interests, division is fueled by nonsensical assertions of racism.  Acknowledging class interests does not necessarily fuel class divide.     

You cannot compare a group that is disproportionately financially disadvantaged, to a group that is disproportionately financially advantaged and assert that criminal justice shows systemic racism, because financial disadvantage is indicative of criminal justice outcomes   To understand the role race plays we have to first account for class.  Otherwise these statistics are misrepresenting economic disadvantage as racial disadvantage.  When class is accounted for where we are comparing black people to white people of the same income or wealth distribution, these disparities will disappear.  

A study found “Black and Latino defendants were less likely than White defendants to have charges decreased. Conversely, Asian defendants experienced even more favorable outcomes than White defendants as they were more likely to have charges reduced and less likely to experience an increase.” (7) Comparing race as a whole this is true.  Why?  Because as a whole white defendants are more likely to come from money to hire an attorney which increases the likelihood of favorable outcomes.  This is also why Asian defendants experienced even more favorable outcomes than whites since Asians have the highest median income in the country.  If we compare the charge reduction by race and class, the disparities will likely disappear.  Sorry academics can study discrepancies of race and always find a popular correlation because economic disadvantage and the proportion of economic disadvantage by race will alway yield discrepancies between races.   

7: BESIKI LUKA KUTATELADZE 12/4/2017 “TRACING CHARGE TRAJECTORIES: A STUDY OF THE INFLUENCE OF RACE IN CHARGE CHANGES AT CASE SCREENING, ARRAIGNMENT, AND DISPOSITION”.  Quoted portion form abstract.  https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1745-9125.12166  

Any stats that suggest a racial advantage in criminal justice do not reflect racial causation.  Coming from poverty, unemployment, and low income predispose people to going to prison.  The obvious reason being desperation produces crime out of necessity due to a lack of opportunity. The second reason is a lack of opprotunity causes the risk of being caught much less meaningful because the consequence imposes on less opportunity.  A person in the bottom 10% of income earners is 20x more likely to end up in prison than someone who comes from the top 10%.  As income increases, the prospect of being incarcerated decreases.  Since you have a larger proportion of the black population who is economically disadvantaged by past systemic racism, you have greater proportional exposure to police and more negative outcomes proportionally.  To properly measure the racial bias, you have to compare white and black samples of the same income.  Otherwise, all you’re measuring is proportional economic inequality, and you’re not observing any present systemic racial disadvantage.  

For more on racism and the overemphasis and exaggeration of racial disadvantage you can view: http://orioncs.net/poor-white-sasquatch/

For more on George Floyd: http://orioncs.net/george-floyd/