These data astounded me once I worked them out. See my latest Washington Post Wonkblog to learn how we could release 100,000 people from jail immediately.
Last Sunday, a security officer dragged a 69-year-old physician, David Dao, off a United Airlines plane at O’Hare Airport. Dr. Dao was injured in the altercation. The extent and severity of his injuries remains unclear, but are likely to receive close attention when he sues. Video of the incident ignited an internet firestorm.
The past week has occasioned thousands of tweets, countless newspaper op-eds and commentaries about how lousy airlines generally are, and how United Airlines in particular needs to raise its game.
A week later, I fear the real lesson is being lost.
A lot from the University of Chicago Crime Lab 2016 homicide report, and out gun research.
The 21st century has witnessed remarkable decay in the well-being of many non-Hispanic white Americans. In a new report, economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton document that non-Hispanic whites who have a high school education or less have experienced reduced life expectancy and increased rates of suicide and addiction. Recent correctional system data highlight another dimension of this population’s travails: they are increasingly spending time in jail.
For the rest of the story, see my latest piece at Washington Post.
I received this post from a friend:
This morning I received an email from the National Academies Press (see the URL, below) containing both the script of President Trump’s recent Joint Address to Congress and — interspersed at relevant locations — copies of various NRC reports from the National Academies containing information, data and recommendations about the many scientific, engineering and medical issues facing our country (and the world).
A number of police officers throughout the country have used excessive and sometimes deadly force in instances that were absolutely unjustified, including some egregious cases in Chicago, the city I know best. Many of these would not have been known about or dealt with properly had it not been for police and citizen cameras. These situations have led to far-reaching changes in police policies regarding the use of deadly force.
Along with these changes, there has been a charge that police departments in many cities over-police minority communities. This charge is accompanied by statistics that show that more police stops occur in minority communities than other, whiter communities; that is, if we divide the number of stops by the number of residents, it is higher for minority communities than for white communities.
But the racial composition is only one variable that can describe a community; there are others. Consider the fact that, in most cities, the areas with the greatest crime rates are populated with minorities. In Chicago there are two high-crime areas: the rest of the city is relatively safe. These two areas are characterized by a high rate of calls for police service, high crime rates and (non-police) shooting and homicide rates, high poverty, high truancy rates, etc. These areas have proportionately the highest number of police stops and are generally more dangerous, both for police and for the overwhelming majority of the citizens in those areas that do not commit crime.
The police did not create those problems in these communities. They were generated by decades of policies both active (redlining and other discriminatory strategies) and passive (neglect by municipal agencies), by decisions made well above the police officers’ pay grade. That some police officers are prejudiced is hardly unexpected, since they grew up under these policies.
But looking only at a community’s racial composition to infer police bias truly obscures the picture. We should compile community-level statistics with different denominators: police stops per number of violent crimes, per number of gunfire incidents, per number of confiscated weapons. That is, to understand the behavior of police, focus on what usually does, and should, drive their behavior.
No one can or should condone the use of excessive (and lethal) force by the police, in these or other communities; however, the focus on more policing of these communities is probably as it should be. Residents of those communities are the ones who are victimized the most, and the over 95 percent of them who are not criminals deserve protection.
As Keith Humphreys pointed out in the comments below, the police are more present in high-crime, low-income communities, but in Chicago, where they have been criticized by the ACLU and DOJ, they seem to have gone fetal, with much less proactive policing. One of the consequence of that stance is doubtless the increase in homicides, which included seven persons killed last Wednesday. And here’s another consequence: http://www.copinthehood.com/2016/10/chicago-cop-murders-unarmed-man.html
We all want a free lunch, we may explain why so many people cling to the myth that prisons are populated with non-violent drug offenders, and mass incarceration and racial disparities too can be resolved simply by releasing some harmless pot smokers from behind bars. But it just isn’t so, as the data below show.
Some people change their mind when they see disconfirming evidence regarding something they believe. Others dig in, almost religiously, in this case by saying that these data prove even more their original view that the War on Drugs is the main cause of mass incarceration, because violence is all due to drugs and drug enforcement. Pity the faithful: a new analysis by The Economist of urban homicides shows that only 4% are drug-related, meaning 24 out of every 25 are not.
If you want to see how two bold, innovative scholar-reformers are grappling with the world of prison reform as it is rather than how we might wish it to be, check out my new Washington Post Wonkblog.
The only time my life was even moderately endangered when I worked in the Obama White House was at the first meeting of the HIV/AIDS strategy development group. Someone had noted that the African-American female infection rate was far greater than the White female rate, and proposed that the President’s strategy try to eliminate the disparity.
I said that I thought that was a bad goal.
For an anxiety-ridden moment, there were death stares facing me around the table. But once I explained my reservations, everyone agreed. The point I made was that the disparity could be eliminated if the rate of White female infection quadrupled and the rate of African-American infection only doubled, an outcome that would leave us all in tears. We therefore shouldn’t be pursuing disparity reduction per se, but reduction in absolute amounts, i.e., the goal should be to reduce the African-American female infection rate.
This came back to me as I put together some data on Black and White women’s levels of imprisonment. If you had set the goal in 1985 to reduce the disparity (It was 7 to 1 then) you could declare victory in 2015 (Disparity dropped to 2 to 1) today because both groups are far more likely to be in prison, it’s just that the growth in the White women’s rate has been faster.
More on these data in my piece in Washington Post today.
Rep Trent Franks (R-AZ): “If Russia succeeded in giving the American people information that was accurate, then they merely did what the media should have done.”
I find this disgraceful.
Rep Franks:"If Russia succeeded in giving...info that was accurate...they merely did what the media should've done" https://t.co/NSZqUJz81Q
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) December 29, 2016
Congress failed this year (again) to pass criminal-justice reform legislation, despite strong bipartisan interest in curbing mass incarceration. Nevertheless, a Bureau of Justice Statistics report released Thursday shows that the U.S. imprisonment rate dropped for the seventh straight year in 2015, reaching its lowest level since 1997. How is the country sustaining progress on de-incarceration, congressional paralysis notwithstanding?
For more see my latest Washington Post Wonkblog.