Poli 103A California Politics Crime and Punishment II: Race and Crime.
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Poli 103A California Politics Crime and Punishment II: Race and Crime
Crime and Punishment II: Race and Crime Trends: Changing Budgets and Lives Breaking Down the Impact of Race Arrests Releases Sentences Policing Practices
Trends: Changing Budgets and Lives Today there are 161,785 people in the California prison system. Per inmate cost average $30,929.
Trends: Changing Budgets and Lives California’s Youth and Adult Corrections budget has grown from 3.32% of general fund spending in 1976-1977 to a proposed 7.54% in 2004-2005. Fasting growing area. Higher Education has dropped from 17.96% to 11.43% over this period.
Trends: Changing Budgets and Lives Puzzle for discussion: Why has the prison population grown while crime rates have gone down?
Trends: Changing Budgets and Lives The “criminal justice control rate” (includes prison, jail, CYA, parole, and probation) differs by ethnicity: 5.4% for whites aged 20-29 in 1990 33.2% for blacks 9.4% for Latinos 3.5% for others (including API)
Trends: Changing Budgets and Lives There are competing explanations for the differences in incarceration and control rates by ethnicity: Discrimination in the system accounts for harsher treatment of minorities. Behavioral differences, whether they stem from individual choice or environmental forces, account for outcomes, system is unbiased.
Breaking Down the Impact of Race To adjudicate between these competing explanations, Frank Gilliam, Jr. breaks down the steps of the justice system, looking at: Arrest rates (police officers) Releases without charges (prosecutors) Conviction rates and sentence lengths (judges and juries)
Breaking Down the Impact of Race: Arrest Rates It is hard to separate offense rates from arrest rates. Blacks are arrested at rates 4-5 times larger than their proportion of the population. (Gilliam, pp. 312-313) Historical evidence shows that the black/white gap has always existed, but is growing.
Breaking Down the Impact of Race: Arrest Rates Explanations of this gap include: #1. Socioeconomic status: blacks and Latinos have more poverty, less employment. This is consistent with high rates of narcotics arrests.
Breaking Down the Impact of Race: Release Rates #2. The gap (and year-to-year changes) may also result from different police tactics. Police may be “over-arresting” blacks and Latinos. If so, some portion of their high arrest rates may indicate discrimination on the part of law enforcement authorities rather than a behavioral difference.
Breaking Down the Impact of Race: Release Rates Gilliam finds evidence that minorities are in fact “over-arrested” by looking at how often they are released with no trial: In 1992, blacks accounted for about 30% of all arrests but 60% of all releases. Contrary to what you may have seen on TV, black suspects are no more likely than whites to be released due to witness reluctance. Its usually lack of evidence.
Breaking Down the Impact of Race: Sentencing A survey of those in prison in 1978 by RAND found that “minority status alone accounted for one to seven additional months,” in prison, even holding constant: Prior records Likelihood that the crime was violent Probation and parole records
Breaking Down the Impact of Race: Sentencing California’s 1977 Determinate Sentencing Act was designed to remove the role of prejudice: Instead of case-by-case decisions on sentencing, the law set ranges for crimes At the same time that it got fairer on crime, the Act got tougher on crime by shifting from rehabilitation to punishment
Breaking Down the Impact of Race: Sentencing Gilliam’s analysis of 1992 data appears to show that the Act worked: he found no direct effect of race on the length of sentences. He found indirect effects of factors associated with race such as type of attorney, type of plea, and prior records.
Policing Practices America is distinctive in the lack of a federal role in policing. California’s police and sheriffs are all local. California’s major cities are distinctive in the small size of their police forces, taking a “strike force” rather than “foot soldier” approach. Cities vary in the # of minority officers.
Policing Practices: Strike Force vs. Foot Soldiers
Discussion Questions What are some of the causes that Sandra Bass identifies for the higher rates of police neglect, harassment, and brutality of minority groups? In 2000, SB 1102 forbid California cops from engaging in racial profiling. We will compare and discuss definitions of racial profiling.