40 Bad Reasons for Prison Statistics Pt. 1

Why is the black prison population so high?

I really get kind of tired of watching liberals whine and moan about how unfair the world is, only to really have no way of pointing to actual, demonstrable, defensible examples of how it is actually unfair.   One common claim is that it’s really unfair that a disproportionate number of black and poor people are stuck in America’s prisons, yet I never really see why it’s supposed to be unfair that people who actually commit crimes end up behind bars.  Now, Bill Quigly, a law professor at Loyola University in New Orleans provides 40 reasons why this is so horrible.  This is a rather extensive list so I’ve split it into four 10-reason posts.  So let’s take a look at his first 10 reasons, shall we?

Before we even get started, I want to point out that many of these reasons are repeats or slight modifications of other reasons, I think he thought a nice large and round number served his purpose better so he cheated a fair bit.  Therefore, I’m probably not going to spend a lot of time on his repeats, fair warning.

One. It is not just about crime.

Well, yeah, actually it is.  We don’t put people in prison for no reason whatsoever.  You might not like the crimes they commit, you may be unhappy with the laws they violate, but they are actual laws that people are being held accountable for.  I might even agree with you that some of these laws should be abolished and the penalties on the books changed.  That’s something for the law profession to handle.  What are you doing about it?

Two. Police discriminate.

Really?  Prove it.  The reason that police spend more time looking at blacks and the poor is because those people commit a disproportionate amount of the crimes.  There is only a limited amount of time that the police have to do their jobs, they have to spend the most time on the people that are most likely to be guilty.  What, you want us to look at the quadriplegic in a wheelchair as a serious suspect for vehicular homicide?  That’s not rational.  How about someone brain dead in a hospital bed? What crime do you want to suspect them of?  If blacks and the poor want to stop being considered for crimes, they need to actually stop committing so many.

Three. Police traffic stops also racially target people in cars.

First off, this is about prison, not traffic stops.  Whether people do this or not is entirely irrelevant to the question at hand.  In fact, there are a lot of questions here about traffic stops and traffic tickets that have zero to do with putting anyone in prison for anything, but again, this guy needs to pad his list.  Secondly though, and this goes back to my answer in question 2.  Police pull people over who break the traffic laws, they don’t just randomly pull people over for no reason whatsoever.  I did a post on this a long time ago that illustrates this.  I’m not saying it never happens and when it does, those officers need to be held accountable for their actions and probably relieved of their duties.  I just don’t think that the “no reason” advocates really have any evidence that it’s for absolutely no reason at all most of the time.

Four. Once stopped, Black and Hispanic motorists are more likely to be given tickets than white drivers stopped for the same offenses.

I don’t even think that this is defensible because all cases are different.  How would they even be able to support such a claim? How do you show that a black driver gets a ticket when a white one doesn’t under exactly the same conditions?  I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, I just question the statistical analysis.  The idea that you can take 100 traffic stops for  blacks and 100 traffic stops for whites and say that because blacks got 51 tickets and whites got 49 tickets, that proves the system is racist is nonsense.

Five. Once stopped, Blacks and Latinos are also more likely to be searched.

It is illegal to search without probable cause.  Again, going back to question four, you’d have to show that the exact same probable cause will make a particular officer search only a black driver and not a white driver consistently and if you can do that, that’s an officer that needs disciplinary action.  I have yet to see evidence or studies that have shown that though.  Maybe black drivers simply have probable cause more often than white drivers do.

Six. Traffic tickets are big business.

They are indeed and this is somewhere I agree with Quigley, but this, in and of itself, is not a reason for anything.  It’s just a fact. It doesn’t put anyone in prison, any more than any of these other traffic related statements do.  It’s like saying “water is wet”.  That may be true but it doesn’t mean a thing.

Seven. The consequences of traffic tickets are much more severe among poor people.

But if that’s the case and if claim 5 is true, then what impetus do the police have in stopping the poor, who cannot pay the fines, than stopping the wealthy that can?  Yes, the wealthy can also afford lawyers to fight their tickets and that is an expense that the city doesn’t have to undertake with the poor, but at the same time, for legitimate tickets, the wealthy will probably not bother to fight it, it’s cheaper to just write a check.  You cannot get blood from a rock, ticketing the poor won’t get any money into your coffers.  In fact, in California, they’re trying to pass a law that says that the poor are immune from traffic tickets, which is only going to make things worse.

Eight. In schools, African American kids are much more likely to be referred to the police than other kids.

Without context, this is meaningless.  Maybe black kids are causing more problems than white kids.  You’d need to have studies that show that black kids are being arrested in much greater quantities for committing the same offenses under the same circumstances as white kids.  I don’t think they have those studies but if they do, I’d love to see them and in that case, I’d be completely supportive of disciplinary action toward whatever administrators or teachers are responsible.

Nine. Though Black people make up about 12 percent of the U.S. population, Black children are 28 percent of juvenile arrests.

Which is entirely irrelevant if black children commit 28% of the crimes.  See, this is where liberal quota politics is a problem. It doesn’t matter what kind of percentages there are, it matters who actually performs the actions and commits the crimes.  If black people were responsible for a lot of the crimes, they should be held accountable for the crimes they actually commit.  In the 2012 FBI crime statistics, the most recent available,  blacks are responsible for 49.4% of the murders and non-negligible homicides.  It is absolutely ridiculous to count how many black murderers we arrest until we get to 12% and then stop because you’ve hit your quota.  All murderers, regardless of skin color, need to be brought to justice.  All of them.

Ten. The War on Drugs targets Black people.

Which is, again, irrelevant.  It doesn’t target black people (and why is “black” capitalized all the time?).  If blacks commit an inordinate amount of the drug crime, they ought to be prosecuted an inordinate amount of the time.  Skin color ought not matter.  If they are, whether because of their skin color or their economic status, more likely to commit these crimes, then it is only to be expected that they would be prosecuted more often.  I’m not sure why this is a question.  Nobody is going “hey, we should pass laws that will only affect black people”.  That’s idiotic.

Well, that’s the first ten. What do you think?  Do you think that Quigley’s reasons are valid?  Let’s continue tomorrow, okay?

2 thoughts on “40 Bad Reasons for Prison Statistics Pt. 1”

  1. Profiling is something that I have never heard a good excuse not to do. I mean sure we can search everyone at the airport and increase the get to the airport time 24 hours before the flight. But then people will bitch even more than they do now. Profiling is necessary and makes sense when the crime statistics show that they person carrying the bomb is probably a male between 20 – 40.

    Interesting that we don't see these people complaining about serial killer profiles which are usually middle aged white men with a high IQ.
    My recent post Keller explains Hell to us, and its a lot worse than expected apparently

    1. Exactly. You have to profile, every police force out there does it, whether they want to admit it or not, because it is a waste of time and effort not to do so. To use your serial killer example, 90-year old grandmothers in wheelchairs are not serial killers in the overwhelming majority of cases, therefore, unless you have evidence that one is actually the likely culprit, you don't look at them seriously most of the time. It is literally impossible for any law enforcement agency not to profile and still be effective, if you had to look at absolutely everyone, no matter who they were, just because it was conceivably possible they could be guilty, you'd never have time to accomplish anything. But hey, maybe the cat did it, we can't profile to just humans, right?

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