Race and Crime: the Causes of Black Crime Rates

First, let’s look at the basic statistics on race and crime in America. Some people like to point out that Whites commit more crimes each year than Blacks. This is true, but only because Whites make up a greater proportion of the population than Blacks.

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports show that, relative to their share of the population, African-Americans make up a disproportionately high share of criminals, especially violent criminals, and this means that they commit crime at a higher per capita rate than Whites do. Asian Americans, by contrast, commit crime at a lower rate than Whites do.

Some people try to obfuscate this fact by pointing out that most crime is intra-racial. This is true, but the fact that most crimes with Black offenders also have Black victims does not change the fact that there are more Black crimes per capita than White crimes. Furthermore, when crime is inter-racial it is usually Black on White.

So far, I’ve been relying on arrest statistics as a proxy for crime. Some argue that this is invalid because the police are biased and Blacks are more likely to be arrested than Whites. This argument can easily be refuted using data from The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The NCVS is a survey carried out yearly in which the Department of Justice asks Americans about their experience with crime over the last year. The DOJ first asks participants if they have been the victim of a violent crime and, if they have, they are asked to answer various questions about the crime and the perpetrator of said crime.

Using this data, the proportion of violent criminals who are Black, according to the victims of violent crimes, can be calculated. We can then compare these figures to the offender rates by race in the FBI’s arrest data. Doing so reveals that there is essentially no racial bias in arrest data.

Of course, victimization surveys can’t tell us anything about victimless crimes, and many liberals point to self-report data suggesting that Blacks use drugs at the same or a lesser rate than Whites even though they are more likely than Whites to be arrested for drug use. This, they argue, is strong evidence of bias in the justice system.

The first problem with this argument is that African-Americans are more likely than Whites to lie about using drugs. How do we know this? Well, criminologists sometimes conduct studies in which they run biological tests on people’s hair, blood, urine, etc., to test what drugs they have recently taken and then compare the results of these biological tests to what drugs they claim they have recently taken. Such studies consistently find that Blacks are more likely than whites to lie and claim that they have not used a drug when they actually have (Page et al., 2009Falk et al., 1992Feucht, Stephens, and Walker, 1994, and Fedrich and Johnson, 2005).

This argument also ignores important differences between African American and White drug users. What kind of differences? Well, to quote one study comparing African American and White drug users:

“African Americans are nearly twice as likely to buy outdoors (0.31 versus 0.14), three times more likely to buy from a stranger (0.30 versus 0.09), and significantly more likely to buy away from their homes (0.61 versus 0.48).” – Ramchand , Pacula, and Iguchi MY, 2006.

Similarly, a  report issued by the Justice Department found that African American drug users use drugs more often than White drug users, use more dangerous drugs than White drug users, and are more likely to use drugs in areas with high crime rates (Lagan, 1995). All 6 of these differences will make African American drug users more likely get to arrested than White drug users.

Given all this, there is no good reason to suppose that African American drug arrest rates reflect racism. Combining this with NCVS data, we clearly see that African Americans are more likely than Whites Americans to commit crime.

The Police War on Blacks

Briefly, it is worth noting that police shootings also show no signs of racial bias. If we compare the proportion of people killed by police who are Black to the proportion of violent criminals who are Black we find that, if anything, we would expect more Blacks to be killed by police in a color blind society….[    ]

What do you think?

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1 month ago

Solution: De-fund the police

1 month ago

No one ever gets offended by the statistics that Asians commit fewer crimes than anyone in America, fewer than blacks, hispanics and whites. Its only racism if it is perceived as bad.

1 month ago

Hiding our heads in the sand that there are issues with race and crime won’t make it go away. The only way to solve an issue is to first understand the problem. There is a problem, and it isn’t caused by biased, white supremacist cops.

1 month ago

At times over the years I have had to ask:

Take a young black woman and have her walk through a White neighborhood at 2 am – not smart but what level of risk does she really have of being raped and murdered that night?

Take a young White woman and have her walk through a black neighborhood at 2 am – not smart but what level of risk does she really have of being raped and murdered that night?

What is your comparison of the risks?

1 month ago

Beware, it’s considered White Supremacy even to discuss this.



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