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"Black people commit more crime":

A Response

“But Black people commit more crimes than White people.”

The truth of this situation is that Black neighborhoods are over-policed. When you look at statistics without doing more research behind it, it first appears as though Black people commit more crimes than White people. This, however, cannot be true, as Black people only make up around 13% of the US population. More attention and pressure is put on Black communities, and so more of them are arrested for things that White people can just do without much of a second thought, such as selling lemonade on the side of the road “without a permit”, or speeding.


    Let's start by analyzing a statistic that's been circulating the internet lately: "Black men commit nearly half of all murders in the US.” While this is statistically correct, and Black offenders have indeed been convicted of 52% of homicides between 1980-2008, Black men also make up 50% of those wrongfully convicted of murder. A Black person incarcerated for sexual assault is 3.5x more likely to be innocent than a White person convicted of a crime, 7x for murder, and 12x for drug convictions. In fact, nearly half of all people exonerated of a crime since 1989 are Black individuals, and Black people are more likely to be falsely convicted.

But why?

Though the answer to this question is very complicated, racial bias and institutional discrimination play a big role in this issue. Only 15% of murders committed by Black people involve White people, yet a staggering 31% of Black people are eventually cleared of murder convictions against White people. Misconduct like hiding evidence, tampering with witnesses, or perjury may also all play a part in this racial disparity. In 76% of cases where Black murder defendants are wrongfully convicted, misconduct is found. When looking at these exonerated murder charges, a huge difference is found regarding police misconduct across races. Cases for exonerated Black defendants were 22% more likely to include police misconduct than exonerated White defendants. Similar reports can be found in sexual assault convictions too.


Another factor is that White people are more likely to misidentify Black people for one another. This often leads to eyewitnesses misidentifying across races. In fact, eyewitness errors accounted for 79% of sexual assault cases involving wrongfully convicted Black defendants. Assaults on White women by Black men are a small minority but constitute half of the sexual assault cases with eyewitness misidentifications. Why? Because these cases often involve implicit biases, racially tainted official misconduct, and even explicit racism in some cases.


While this information isn't entirely relevant to the Black Lives Matter movement, which focuses on police brutality, it is crucial to know while attempting to understand the systematic racism in our criminal justice system.


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Marcella Rodio


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