June 3, 2013

Disparate Impact Watch: Dope Dealing Division

We're supposed to be living in the age of Big Data, but data just seems to make us dumberer:
Blacks Are Singled Out for Marijuana Arrests, Federal Data Suggests 
By IAN URBINA 
WASHINGTON — Black Americans were nearly four times as likely than whites to be arrested on charges of marijuana possession in 2010, even though the two groups used the drug at similar rates, according to new federal data. 
This disparity had grown steadily from a decade before, and in some states, including Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois, blacks were around eight times as likely to be arrested.

The four that are off in a class by themselves for biggest black to white marijuana arrest ratio are Wisconsin, Illinois, D.C., and Iowa. What kind of racist Red State conspiracy is this?
The new data, however, offers a more nuanced picture of marijuana enforcement on the state level. Drawn from police records from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the report is the most comprehensive review of marijuana arrests by race and by county and is part of a report being released this week by the American Civil Liberties Union. Much of the data was also independently reviewed for The New York Times by researchers at Stanford University.

And, apparently, none of these savants figured out how it works.
“We found that in virtually every county in the country, police have wasted taxpayer money enforcing marijuana laws in a racially biased manner,” said Ezekiel Edwards, the director of the A.C.L.U.’s Criminal Law Reform Project and the lead author of the report.

"Virtually every" one of the 3007 counties in America are "racially biased." That just proves how deep-rooted this racism is. Think of all the meetings it must take to organize a conspiracy in 3000 different counties!
... Researchers said the growing racial disparities in marijuana arrests were especially striking because they were so consistent even across counties with large or small minority populations.

This conspiracy goes all the way to the top! (Or bottom. It's hard to say.)
The A.C.L.U. report said that one possible reason that the racial disparity in arrests remained despite shifting state policies toward the drug is that police practices are slow to change. Federal programs like the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program continue to provide incentives for racial profiling, the report said, by including arrest numbers in its performance measures when distributing hundreds of millions of dollars to local law enforcement each year. 
Phillip Atiba Goff, a psychology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that police departments, partly driven by a desire to increase their drug arrest statistics, can concentrate on minority or poorer neighborhoods to meet numerical goals, focusing on low-level offenses that are easier, quicker and cheaper than investigating serious felony crimes.

As we all know from watching Law & Order, serious felony crimes are concentrated on Park Avenue.
“Whenever federal funding agencies encourage law enforcement to meet numerical arrest goals instead of public safety goals, it will likely promote stereotype-based policing and we can expect these sorts of racial gaps,” Professor Goff said.

Okay, let's point out two obvious aspects that this article is completely oblivious to:

Whether or not blacks are more likely to be drug consumers (the notion of racial equality in consumption is based on surveys that ask people if they break the law), blacks are more likely, on average, to be drug dealers. And you are more likely to get arrested for drug possession if you are a dealer than a user.

That's why states with particularly law-abiding whites (such as the upper midwest and the District of Columbia) have the highest black to white arrest and imprisonment ratios.

Second, arresting somebody for marijuana possession is a way for cops to get people they don't like off the street for a few hours. Fo example, a woman calls 911 to say her boyfriend punched her. The cops show up and she has a black eye, but claims she hit her face on the doorknob. The boyfriend, who is obviously a chronic user, looks like he might hit her again as soon as the cops leave, but she swears she was never hit in the first place. So, the cops pat him down, find his hash pipe and haul him off downtown to cool his heels. 

You can generalize this to the whole No Snitching black drug-dealer culture of the inner cities. Gangstas can intimidate eyewitnesses in their neighborhoods, but they have a hard time intimidating forensic chemists. So, drug possession arrests become a proxy for "serious felony crimes."

None of this should be new to the NYT. But it is. 

Way back in a 2001 UPI article, "Imprisonment Rates Vary Wildly by Race," I crunched the numbers from a report on overall imprisonment rates in 1997 provided by a liberal thinktank and found similar patterns:
For instance, the racial gap in the highly liberal, black-dominated District of Columbia was found to be off the charts. In D.C., a black person is 56 times more likely than a white person to be in prison. The next-largest racial disparities were found in liberal mainstays Minnesota (a 31-times higher rate of blacks being in prison) and Wisconsin (22 times higher), followed by New Jersey, Iowa, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Illinois. All of these states voted for Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore in 2000. ...
The smallest difference in the black-to-white imprisonment rate was found in liberal Hawaii (only 2.9 to 1). This may have something to do with many members of Hawaii's small African-American community being active or retired members of the U.S. armed forces. 
After Hawaii, though, the next 10 states closest to black-white racial equality in imprisonment rates were all Southern or Western states that voted for George W. Bush. For example, highly conservative Mississippi and South Carolina each imprisoned blacks only six times more often than whites per person, compared to the national average of nine times more often. 
Eighteen of the 20 states with the least disparity between blacks and whites voted for Bush in 2000. These below-average racial ratios are driven in part by the tendency of whites in Republican states to get themselves thrown in prison more often than whites in Democratic states. The highest white imprisonment rates tend to be in old frontier states of the Wild West. 
The most often locked up whites are in Alaska, followed by Oklahoma, Nevada, Arizona and Texas.

The world is full of interesting patterns, but contemporary elites push stupidity.

Lots of good additional explanations in the comments.

40 comments:

Dr Van Nostrand said...

In Soviet America, police fail blacks.

Jim Bowery said...

There they go blaming "profiling" again. One of the most comprehensive, testable, theories of vertebrate cognition is Cogent Confabulation which might as well be called the "duck test" theory of thought. Quoting:

Conceptually, cogency maximization works like the duck
test: if a duck-sized creature quacks like a duck, walks like a
duck, swims like a duck, and flies like a duck (assumed facts αβγδ), then we accept it as a duck (because duck, ε, is the symbol that, when it is seen, most strongly supports the
probability of these assumed facts being true; i.e. ε
maximizes p(αβγδ|ε). There is no logical guarantee that this creature is a duck; but maximization of cogency makes
the decision that it is and moves on.


What's this "and moves on"? Prejudice? I mean how dare we not tie up cognition in endless combinatorial explosions that would require, as neurons, more atoms in the universe and more time than that number of years to exhaustively prove that we aren't jumping to conclusions!!!

DR said...

Drug possession is also a common way for cops to arrest shop lifters when the store in uninterested in pressing charges (as many large chains are, because of the legal cost and bad press).

Mr Lomez said...

"...blacks are more likely, on average, to be drug dealers."

I seriously doubt this, especially when talking about marijuana. Not sure if this applies equally to the Midwest, South, or East Coast, but in California, blacks are only at the lowest level of the marijuana distribution chain, which lower level is compromised of a pretty much proportional cross-section of the population at large. Go to any white suburban high-school, and you'll find that the primary "street" level dealer is a white suburban student at said high-school.

"That's why states with particularly law-abiding whites (such as the upper midwest and the District of Columbia) have the highest black to white arrest and imprisonment ratios."

Right premise, wrong conclusion.

Of course, when it comes to crime, these are also the states with the biggest racial disparities in EVERYTHING).

Thus, it doesn't seem so crazy to me that police efforts in these same states, which are also the most segregated, target minority communities (since that's where so much of the crime happens), which in turn creates more arrests (and more disparity), even for minor offenses like marijuana possession.

It's certainly a feedback loop.

So, the question isn't, are these police efforts racially biased? (of course they are!!!), but is that an inherently BAD thing?

eah said...

In my (long ago) experience, black dope smokers were 1) more likely to be ostentatious about it, eg smoking in public where everyone could see and smell it, and 2) behave stupidly when they started dealing it. Both of which are more likely to get you arrested.

Anonymous said...

"That's why states with particularly law-abiding whites (such as the upper midwest and the District of Columbia) have the highest black to white arrest and imprisonment ratios."

I suspect demand for marijuana is also higher in those relatively socially liberal states. Another case of gentry liberals' freedoms coming at the expense of their political auxiliaries?

Anonymous said...

Driving through a bad (read: Black) neighborhood in Cleveland a couple of weeks ago I saw a drug deal go down.

There is a big difference between how Blacks and Whites sell drugs.

Whites are way more sneaky and paranoid.

Blacks seem to not care if anyone sees them selling drugs. They probably thinks it makes them seem cool or gangster or something foolish like that.

Anonymous said...

Think of all the meetings it must take to organize a conspiracy in 3000 different counties!

Shhhh! You weren't supposed to tell anyone!

Anonymous said...

"There is a big difference between how Blacks and Whites sell drugs. Whites are way more sneaky and paranoid. Blacks seem to not care if anyone sees them selling drugs. They probably thinks it makes them seem cool or gangster or something foolish like that."

Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Blacks advertise their drug dealing to the street, whites don't.

Jack Hanson said...

The amount of energy that must go into maintaining this worldview is staggering. How often do you think anyone quoted in this article has had any dealings with neighborhoods of vibrancy outside of heavily scripted settings?

DPG said...

Anyone who has black friends knows that they like to smoke weed. But as Charles Murray would point out, people who attend Stanford and write for the NYT don't have any black friends.

I mean, hell, the most famous black guy in the country all but bragged on national TV about smoking weed.

Anonymous said...

Our "intellectual elite" are blithering imbeciles. They seem to specialize in putting their brainpower and expensive educations to work at telling us, and themselves, ever more preposterous lies.

Gene Berman said...

Just another reprise of La Griffe's "The Color of Death Row" and "Imprisonment, Politics, and Race."

Presumably, ACLU lawyers are smart. They should be able to read and understand LaGriffe--it'd save them spending effort on useless causes.

Anonymous said...

This story reminds me of the "Arrests Up Even Though Crime Is Down!" tizzy our leftist friends get in periodically. As if it were not perfectly obvious and reasonable for crime to decrease with more criminals in jail.

AL said...

In Chicago, the same people who complain of discriminatory policing also demand greater police presence in their own crime-ridden neighborhoods.

If the city would do what I would like and allocate police manpower based on population (or, better yet, by the tax revenue generated in a given area), the arrest rate of blacks for low-level drug dealing and possession would plummet when the police found themselves overwhelmed with more serious crime. Meanwhile, officers reallocated to white neighborhoods would have nothing better to do than drive up the white arrest rate by busting kids leaving concerts or rolling through stop signs while smelling of marijuana. Problem solved!

ben tillman said...

Black Americans were nearly four times as likely than whites to be arrested on charges of marijuana possession in 2010....

Wow! Does this grammatical atrocity mean the NY Times no longer employs editors?

ben tillman said...

For instance, the racial gap in the highly liberal, black-dominated District of Columbia was found to be off the charts. In D.C., a black person is 56 times more likely than a white person to be in prison. The next-largest racial disparities were found in liberal mainstays Minnesota (a 31-times higher rate of blacks being in prison) and Wisconsin (22 times higher), followed by New Jersey, Iowa, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Illinois. All of these states voted for Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore in 2000. ...


La Griffe du Lion, who cites Steve's 2001 article, has more to say on this topic:

http://www.lagriffedulion.f2s.com/prison.htm

sunbeam said...

Everyone has their own take on things. By that I mean exactly what of the HBD arguments they find credible, and what they find dubious.

And what they understand.

But I find it profoundly depressing.

I read several of the La Griffe du Lion articles just now.

Statistics is an area of math I've never spent a lot of time on. So I don't really have the background to evaluate his claims out of the box.

But if I understand it correctly, and if his claims are true, law enforcement is useless in a sense.

It really doesn't have a deterrent effect, except as that it incarcerates people so that their crimes are perpetrated on other inmates, instead of society at large.

The number of inmates you get depends on your enforcement threshold. The lower it is, the more inmates you get. The higher, the less inmates you get.

As I understand what he is saying, blacks are more prone to what we might call extreme behavior, behavior that gets you jailed.

So with a high threshold we get a section of behavior that that is to the tail of the white curve, and pretty meaty in the black curve. Since there are more whites than blacks, particularly in the anomalous liberal states, we get a skewed ratio.

In more conservative states with a lower threshold, the objectionable behavior sector has a larger fraction of the white curve, and with the higher white population we get more balanced ratios.

I can attest to this. Marijuana laws and enforcement are so capricious across the US. Something that gets you jail time (if you don't have the money for a real lawyer) in Texas, might not even get you arrested in another state.

But what depresses me is that apparently criminality is in the genes, period. Statistically that is. You might have an individual who finds religion, or has some motivation to be law abiding. But on the whole, criminality has nothing to do with your legal system, it has everything to do with the nature of your people.

Something related to this, and perhaps not, is something I've found through personal experience.

People, at least the ones I've lived around, don't know squat about the system around them. They don't know that there is a difference between General Sessions court and Magistrate's court. They just go to court.

It's like they are mushrooms getting rained on.

I say that because a lot of people either don't know some things are illegal, or just don't care. These stupid criminal reports you occasionally read aren't so much due to total stupidity as that the repercussions are unusual in their environment when they occur.

I personally know people who at least behave like they don't know marijuana is illegal. It boggles my mind.

But then I think that they must believe something like getting arrested is some random thing, like the lottery or getting struck by lightning.

Then too if you are a person who makes minimum wage, WTF, jail who cares. It's not much different from regular life in some ways. Get out and your life is no different. None of your acquaintances or family members care. It's not like you have a black mark that will keep Goldman Sachs from hiring you, because you were never going to work there anyway.

David said...

"The world is full of interesting patterns, but contemporary elites push stupidity."

They're trying, Steve. They're trying. Here they are, bringing in their heavy artillery:

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2011/12/some-limitations-using-google-find-racist-voters/45624/

"Political correctness makes you stupid." Who said that?

Anonymous said...

You couldn't be more wrong. You could try of course but you would fail. After a lifetime of working in law enforcement, corrections, and probation in a wide variety of positions and very diverse communities, I can tell you, you are wrong with some authority.

The stats if anything understate the differences. Yes blacks are more likely percentage wise to be dealers. That's only part of the issue, they are also more likely to A, act out in public, and B, carry drugs with them. They are more likely to have a bong sitting on the coffee table, pot on the kitchen counter, and a giant picture of Tupac or Marley with a superimposed pot leaf in their living room. They are far more likely to have multigenerational communal pot use with two or even three generations using at the same time together.

How do I know? Because I was one of those guys who had to go into those homes and sort out the mess.

Evil Sandmich said...

There was noise in Ohio a few years ago when there was a ballot initiative that would have (as I recall?) eliminated jail time for convictions of drug possession. A host of judges from across the spectrum came out against it pointing out that low end dealers often plead out to possession and most of those that are actually guilty of simple possession never serve any time anyway.

Cail Corishev said...

Does this grammatical atrocity mean the NY Times no longer employs editors?

Editors with degrees in fields like Gender Studies, yes.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you even need to go through the drug dealer/drug user contortion to find an answer.

When I was much younger, I smoked my share of the demon weed, but I was always aware that it was illegal, and only toked in places where the police weren't likely to be.

Many of my black acquaintances however, had no compunction about lighting up while standing on the sidewalk - I even remember a guy walking through a crowded mall with a smoldering joint hanging from his lips.

Thant kind of indifference to consequences suggests that blacks comprise a larger segment of people cited for possession simply because they are easier to catch.

Anonymous said...

What percentage of the pot possession arrests involved public usage?

Lots of small time street dealers, lookouts and opportunistic thieves past the time getting high in full public view. If a cop is on a Stop, Question & Frisk duty and sees a prospective perp smoking weed outside a section 8 apartment building or public housing while waiting for an chance to sneak inside in order to deal drugs or commit robbery, why not just bust them? Sometime you wonder if the lefties writing an alleged arrest discrimination analysis ever lived in or visited a mixed race neighborhood.

Yes, you can find the occasional white getting high in public, especially every 4/20. But, listening to music with friends while getting high is not a likely potential crime scenario.

Garry McCarthy said...

In a lot of Chicago neighborhoods, drug possession is the only thing cops can arrest criminals for because no one is willing to testify to anything and drug possession is one crime that doesn't require a witness.

Power Child said...

Evil Sammich has it right, I think.

Basically, drug laws are indeed useful proxies for more serious lawbreaking, but the scheme falls apart in practice because criminals figure out how to play the rules to their advantage (or least worst disadvantage, as it were) while the criminal justice system quickly finds itself so overburdened (TONS of people use drugs) that it fails to use the proxies as proxies for more serious offenses, and instead treats them at face value, letting dangerous people back onto the street (only now they have received more criminal training while in jail).

C. Van Carter said...

This particular "disparate impact" always reminds me of this.

Spree said...

Minnesota's racist too. Can you believe they only offered me 3 yrs. at 21 mil? Now my kids can't afford Kaplan test prep.

Otto van Bongwater said...

Really, it's our old friends low impulse control and minimal future time orientation again, isn't it? Two old friends that invariably explain so much.

mel belli said...

Real-life example of how the truth is just the opposite: In '05 I was on a BART train going through Oakland when I noticed three Brothas rolling joints. I walked down three cars to find a cop, who turned out to be a New Jersey Wop. He goes, "show me." So we walk out the train and down the platform. We're standing outside the window where the three mooks are sitting and the cop tells demands my ID. When I ask him why, he says if I don't show him my ID he's going to arrest me. So I show him my ID, and he walks off.

MKP said...

"You couldn't be more wrong. You could try of course but you would fail."

Damn. Strong words, there.

"The stats if anything understate the differences. Yes blacks are more likely percentage wise to be dealers. That's only part of the issue, they are also more likely to A, act out in public, and B, carry drugs with them."

That's pretty much exactly what Steve is saying. When are you going to get to the part when you prove him wrong? Were you confusing Steve's text with the indented quotes from the NY Times?

Steve, there's been a rash of angry but not-quite-comprehending anonymi around these parts lately. Are your page-view #s trending upwards?

Scharlach said...

I just shared this article with my buddy, a deputy (LA County), and he said that, if LA is any indication, then part of the disparity is---as you said, Steve---a matter of blacks not just using but dealing drugs more often.

But he also asked whether or not the study collected data about drug possession charges not connected with other charges. He said that in the LA Sheriff's Dept., drug charges are, like you said, a quick way to get someone off the street for a night so that he doesn't kill someone in a drug-fueled rage.

However, my buddy also said that drug possession charges almost always occur in conjunction with other charges. He says that no deputy arrests someone for possessing weed (in L.A., possessing under an ounce is just a misdemeanor). Deputies bring people in who have weed AND an unregistered firearm, who have weed AND just beat up their girlfriend, who have weed AND are violating parole, et cet . . .

So, whites and blacks may smoke weed in equal numbers, but, says my friend, whites typically don't drive around with an unregistered Glock in the glove compartment when they smoke. Hence blacks are arrested more often for "possession" . . . the ACLU may just be leaving out the "possession AND ______".

Scharlach said...

My deputy buddy was right . . . On page 33 of the ACLU study, they say that their count of marijuana offenses includes "multiple-offense situations," with the exception of violent felonies (e.g., if someone was arrested for weed possession AND murder, the FBI does not report it as a weed possession). So it would be interesting to see their data controlled for multiple-offense situations, that is, to compare whites/blacks who have been arrested for weed possession and WEED POSSESSION ONLY. Something tells me the disparities might thin out a bit.

Buddy also informed me that most deputies will be nice by hauling in people for weed possessions even if they could get dragged in for assault.

Kibernetika said...

Profiling is learning.

Anonymous said...

"Our "intellectual elite" are blithering imbeciles. They seem to specialize in putting their brainpower and expensive educations to work at telling us, and themselves, ever more preposterous lies." - Communist propaganda isn't meant to persuade, or to convince, but to humiliate.

Power Child said...

Another good point other people have alluded to: among black kids it is more often considered pathetic and cowardly to hide your illicit activities from cops or people who might call the cops.

This is rational: if you are trying to live (or making it seem like you live) a tough life on the streets, you don't want to be surrounded by people who are afraid and self-interested. Those types of people will stab you in the back.

Instead, you want friends and neighbors who would rather go to jail than sell you out, who are more afraid of being scorned by their peers than of being incarcerated. In exchange, you have to be that type of friend and neighbor to them. Openly using or dealing drugs is one way to signal that you're that type of person.

Anonymous said...

sunbeam
"But what depresses me is that apparently criminality is in the genes...But on the whole, criminality has nothing to do with your legal system, it has everything to do with the nature of your people."

Knowing it's genetic means your criminal justice system can change the nature of your people over time. The black violent crime rate could be the same as the white violent crime rate (or lower).

ben tillman said...

However, my buddy also said that drug possession charges almost always occur in conjunction with other charges. He says that no deputy arrests someone for possessing weed (in L.A., possessing under an ounce is just a misdemeanor). Deputies bring people in who have weed AND an unregistered firearm, who have weed AND just beat up their girlfriend, who have weed AND are violating parole, et cet . . .

So, whites and blacks may smoke weed in equal numbers, but, says my friend, whites typically don't drive around with an unregistered Glock in the glove compartment when they smoke. Hence blacks are arrested more often for "possession" . . . the ACLU may just be leaving out the "possession AND ______".


This is exactly what came to mind for me. Thanks for the confirmation.

Mr. Anon said...

"Scharlach said...

So, whites and blacks may smoke weed in equal numbers, but, says my friend, whites typically don't drive around with an unregistered Glock in the glove compartment when they smoke."

In a large part of the country, there is no such thing as an "unregistered Glock". TV has convinced people that guns need to be "registered". This may be true in some liberal police-state jurisdictions. However in jurisdictions that still - to some limited extent - respect the Constitution, it is not true. You might be legally required to have a concealed carry permit in order to have a gun in your glove compartment, but the gun need not necessarily be "registered" in the sense of it's serial number being traceable to you.

Anonymous said...

Dale Carson deals with this disparity in "Arrest-Proof Yourself." He says the ghetto lifestyle forces guys to carry everything everywhere in public, making them vulnerable to street searches. Not even probable cause needed to get into someone's pockets. Suburban whites do their vices in their houses which require a warrant to get into. Lot of truth and real good advice in that book.