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The Number One "Root Cause"

In my last post, I noted  --  pivoting from Prof. David Cole's article  --  that (1) the illegitimacy rate among African Americans has skyrocketed from the 1950's to today. This happened at the same time that (2) African Americans have become a significantly greater share of the population of criminals sent to prison, as Prof. Cole laments, and (3) racial discrimination is significantly if not massively less than it was in the Fifties.

What I did not realize at the time I posted was the huge degree to which black out-of-wedlock births have increased.  As this graph provided by the Heritage Foundation shows, in the mid-Fifties, approximately 19% of black children were born outside marriage, or roughly one in five.  Today, the number is a bit over 72%, or almost three-quarters.  (The graph is the ninth one listed; you have to scroll about two-thirds of the way down the page to see it).

The rate of white illegitimacy has also considerably increased from what it was 60 years ago.  Today, almost three in ten non-Hispanic white children are born out of wedlock  --  a rate that is ominous to say the least, but does not not even approach the black rate.

With racial barriers so much lower and black illegitimacy so much higher than it was when Eisenhower was President, I am further convinced that it's not white discrimination but the catastrophic failure of black fatherhood that should be looked to as the principal cause of the increasing percentage of blacks in the prison population.  If that is mistaken, I will be happy to be corrected by commenters.


Decencyevolves: Social science suggests a much more direct cause: racial disparities in charging and sentencing for drug offenses unrelated to the rates at which people of different races offend.


Racism lingers, sadly, despite pronouncements by the majority of the Supreme Court in the recent Voting Rights Act case that it is a thing of the past.

Decencyevolves --

A five and a-half year old report from a far left organization is as impressive as, well, Al Sharpton, whose diatribes it mimics.

In all the years I served as an AUSA, I never even heard of, much less dealt with, a black defendant charged with LSD or meth. Those are popular in certain segments of white culture, just as crack is popular in certain segments of black culture. I suggest both segments in both cultures CLEAN IT UP, rather than blame the system for their own destructive behavior and its consequences.

The notion that "racism lingers" is true but irrelevant to the discussion. The question is not whether it lingers, but whether it has INCREASED, and increased to such a large extent as to account for the significant increase in the percentage of black prisoners.

Painting whites, and white police and prosecutors in particular, as Klansmen wannabees is smearing and -- more to the point -- false. I might point out that the percentage of blacks in FEDERAL prison has not changed in the roughly six years we have had a black man as AG, and a black man as the appointer of United States Attorneys. Are they too racist in their drug prosecutions?

Lastly, you couldn't possibly believe that the huge increase in black illegitimacy has nothing to do with black criminal behavior.

Or do you?

Decency evolves: The science on this is pretty robust:


And I tend to trust it more than truthiness from pundits; the "I know it in my guts" approach. Motivations are complex things, as are charging and sentencing decisions--you don't have to be a Klansman to be affected by unconscious biases towards people who you perceive as similar to you and against those who you perceive as different from you.

As for what I believe, I believe what can be shown. If black people possess and sell illegal drugs at approximately the same rate as white people and suffer harsher charges and sentences, there is a problem, and I'm pleased, not upset, when the Attorney General of the United States addresses it.

Decencyevolves --

1. "Science" is not an all-knowing authority. A bunch of social scientists say that the death penalty has no deterrent effect and have studies to prove it. A bunch more say it DOES have a deterrent effect and have studies to prove THAT. Social "science" tends to lie in the eye of the beholder. The Sentencing Project and HRW are not in this for abstract research. They're in it as determined and well-financed advocates, and their results should be viewed in that light. Somehow, I really doubt that you tout NRA studies with the same enthusiasm you show here for "social science" by left-leaning advocacy groups.

2. I will ask once again: Do you think black illegitimacy can go from 19% 60 years ago to 72% now and have no effect on increasing black crime? Yes? No?

3. You make no response to the fact that the racial composition of the federal prison population has not changed over the nearly six years that Obama and Holder have been running the system, with their appointees in place to help them.

Are all those people likewise suffering from "unconscious biases"?

Well, I'll go you one better. They do in fact have biases, and they're fully conscious. Holder, for one, has made absolutely clear his distaste for white people, by point-blank calling them cowards (which is false, as I'm sure you know) and hectoring them for refusing to discuss race, when in fact the sky is black with criss-crossing tracts as (mostly) Caucasian writers, speakers and journalists address race as frequently or more frequently than any other domestic topic. You literally cannot pick up a week's worth of newspapers and magazines without seeing one article or another about how the USA is still a wretched Jim Crow state.

4. I agree that there is a problem with drug use among blacks: There is way too much of it. And it tends to be of a more self-destructive drug than white college kids use (crack vs. pot), and is thus contributing to the erosion of the quality of black life -- an erosion that appears, as I noted, in (among numerous other things) the all-but complete destruction of the unified black family and responsible black fatherhood.

Why oh why is it always someone else's fault rather than the fault of, say, the guy who dropped out of school in the tenth grade, doesn't bother with a job, uses some addictive drug, and then walks out on his (latest) girlfriend after he gets her pregnant? Why is it that that fellow shoulders no responsibility for his choices, and the only option liberals can think of is to castigate Whitey?

To trivialize African Americans as helpless children who can't be held to account for their choices is its own form of discrimination, in addition to forcing disproportionate social burdens on everyone else.

What I think, you think, or the man in the moon thinks is far less important than what can be shown. The materials I cited stated that (1) black and white people use and sell illegal drugs at the same rates; and (2) black people, as a group, encounter far harsher punishment than white people. If this is true, than racial disparities in charging and sentencing, rather than increased rates of illegitimacy or any other cause, is responsible for the larger number of black people incarcerated for drug offenses.

It is unsurprising that the percentage of black men incarcerated in prison has not declined under the Obama Administration. Until this year, he had the most parsimonious pardon policy of any President as a result of the dubious actions of Bush holdover Ronald Rodgers:


Policies adopted this year haven't come close to solving that particular fiasco yet. As recently as last year, Professor Berman urged the Administraion to take action on racial sentencing disparities:


The process of doing so has barely begun.

If blacks are disproportionately charged with drug crimes, the explanation lies in their "method of operation" if you will. Open air drug selling on inner city street corners lends itself to easy police work. Regarding the canard that blacks are disproportionately arrested for simple MJ possession, that also tends to occur when it is brazenly smoked in public.

If one group distributes and uses drugs sub rosa and the other makes no effort to conceal their transgressions, which group will appear more frequently in the crime blotter?

mjs --

Correct. To expect the arrest rate for people who commit crime visibly to equal the arrest rate for those who do it invisibly is silly.

The police are, in this sense, like any other underfunded organization: You get the low hanging fruit. To portray this as racism is to walk past the practical realities of policing.

Decencyevolves has ignored probably the most ironclad, concrete, and inarguable piece of social science ever created, that nuclear families matter.

One mom + One dad=an overwhelming chance of staying out of poverty/prison compared to the other "family structures."

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