Given the way the left has depicted Trayvon Martin’s death—as a case of a “white Hispanic” who “hunted down” a young African American and was subsequently given a pass by a corrupt and racist criminal-justice system—one could hardly have been shocked to learn that on April 7th in Gainesville, Florida, a group of at least five black men shouted “Trayvon!” before proceeding to beat an innocent, 27-year-old white pedestrian so badly as to leave his face permanently disfigured. Neither was it particularly surprising when, four days later—again in Gainesville—a black crowd shouted “Trayvon!” while assaulting a white man who was trying to wrest his female companion’s purse from the hands of a black man who had just stolen it. Nor could it be described as stunning that someone in Sanford, Florida shot six bullets into an empty police cruiser on the morning of April 10th—to register an unmistakable vote of disapproval over how local police had purportedly mishandled their response to George Zimmerman’s recent killing of Martin.
The foregoing actions were those of people seeking retribution for two very separate offenses. First, of course, there was the killing of Martin—an act which, according to a Gallup poll, 72% of blacks (as compared to 31% of non-blacks) view mainly a result of Zimmerman’s own racial bias. Second, and much more important, was the perception that law-enforcement’s decision not to incarcerate the gunman in the immediate aftermath of the shooting reflected a racial bias that pervades the entire criminal-justice system of the United States. Gallup reports that 73% of blacks (vs. 35% of non-blacks) believe that Zimmerman would have been arrested (and presumably jailed) if his victim had been white, while a new ABC poll finds that 84% of blacks feel that the justice system—from the police to the courtroom to the penitentiary—treats them inequitably.
While it is virtually impossible to overstate the implications of this core belief which has so firmly embedded itself in the worldview of black Americans, one vital question begs for an answer: Is it true? Let us briefly survey the mountain of empirical evidence that the champions of “civil rights”—like Jackson and Sharpton—have so carefully avoided mentioning amid their incessant, thundering denunciations of the U.S. and its justice system.
The criminal-justice process is comprised of a number of stages, or decision points, at which law-enforcement personnel (such as police and judges) must determine how they should proceed—arrest or release a suspect; convict or acquit; impose a harsh or mild sentence; etc. Contrary to popular mythology, there is virtually no evidence of racial discrimination at any of these decision points. Black overrepresentation is almost entirely at the arrest stage, reflecting the simple fact that the “average” black engages in criminal activity more frequently than the “average” white. Not only are the outcomes at other decision points nearly identical for both races, but the slight differences that do exist tend to favor blacks. Further, the arrest rates of blacks living in cities that are the politically black-controlled are no lower than the arrest rates of blacks in white-controlled cities. Nor are these realities anything new; they have been true for decades.
Consider that as early as 1983, the liberal-leaning National Academy of Sciences found “no evidence of a widespread systematic pattern of discrimination in sentencing.” In 1985 the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology concluded that a disproportionate number of blacks were in prison not because of a double standard of justice, but because of the disproportionate number of crimes they committed. That same year, federal government statistician Patrick Langan conducted an exhaustive study of black and white incarceration rates and found that “even if racism [in sentencing] exists, it might explain only a small part” of the black overrepresentation among prison inmates. In a 1987 review essay of the three most comprehensive books examining the role of race in the American criminal-justice system, the journal Criminology concluded that there was little evidence of anti-black discrimination. The most exhaustive, best-designed study of comparative sentencing patterns—a 1990 analysis of more than 11,000 recently convicted criminals in California—found that the severity of sentences depended heavily on such factors as prior criminal records, the seriousness of the crimes, and whether guns were used in the commission of those crimes; race was found to have no effect whatsoever. A 1991 RAND Corporation study found that a defendant’s racial or ethnic background bore little or no relationship to conviction rates; far more important than race were such factors as the amount of evidence presented, and whether or not a credible eyewitness testified.
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