Current events, Human Right

Disproportions in the System

Having a Facebook conversation with someone who goes more on emotion instead of logic has been an interesting thing. I’m about data when I research and write. Despite what the emotional content may be (in this case incarcerated population numbers) I prefer going by the numbers using logic to form my opinion. 

I got my numbers from the Bureau of Prisons which states that the majority of prisoners on hand are white. With black coming in second, latino third, native fourth, and asian last. (https://www.bop.gov/about/statistics/statistics_inmate_race.jsp)

His passion on the subject,and his determination to change my perception, made me decide to dig in and do more research. The numbers fluctuate depending on how the count is done and who does it. This is generally normal. So, I looked up more data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. (https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p19.pdf

Here is the breakdown of their numbers, which are for 2019 totals. There were a total of 1,430,805 prisoners in the system. The majority of those in state facilities at 1,255,689 and 175,116 in the federal system. Men make up 1,322,850 while women make up 107,995. The last decade shows a drop in incarcerated numbers of over 10% in all categories. The numbers of male v females weren’t the topic of discussion. So let’s break down the numbers by race.

Those incarcerated in 2019 (tried and sent) break down as such: federal (158,498) State (1,221,929), Men (1,279,079) Women (101,348), White (422,800) Black (452,800), Hispanic (320,700). 

Based on per capita numbers of per 100,000, the numbers are as follows: Federal (48) State (371), Male (789) Women (61), White (214) Black (1096) Hispanic (525). 

Incarceration rates have dropped as listed over the last decade: Federal (21%) State (16.2%), Men (17.1%) Women (10%), White (12.5%) Black (29%) Hispanic (24.4%).

Depending on where you look, the numbers vary. The BJS does not include the specific numbers for Indeginous or Asian populations like the BOP does. However, both show a lower rate of those to other demographics. 

Looking at the BJS numbers, there are two stories told. The first is that white and black prisoners overall, have about the same numbers of incarcerated with those of the black community slightly higher. But when it is broken down into the per capita ratio, the numbers show a huge difference. 

Taking the current population number (2018 record) of the nearest city to me, Fort Wayne Indiana at 267,633, the totals would be roughly White (approx 500) Black (approx 2500) and Hispanic (approx 1100). 

The breakdown by race in Fort Wayne is listed as: White (73.85%) Black (14.85%) with multi racial and other groups making up the rest. 

There are quite a few factors that go into the arrest and incarceration rates. These would include job availability, education, investments in the varying communities, nature/nurture, etc. And while I will post about these at a later date, the numbers don’t lie. That is why I prefer data to emotion. In this case, the emotion is warranted by minority communities. 

Fort Wayne, like the majority of our cities, needs to do better. Both in equality in sentencing and in programs that aid the black community achieve their goals. Economically, educationally, and within the Criminal Justice system.

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Current events, Human Right, Uncategorized

Numbers may not tell the story

Somewhere in our country, another officer fires his sidearm and kills another person. Most of the time, that story usually refers to a white officer and a black victim. I will not argue the point, that at times it may be necessary for an officer to do so. But one also needs to look at the numbers in respect to police shootings. 

Looking at the numbers however, will not give a full picture of whether there is racism within the ranks of law enforcement. What these numbers will not show are a few things. They will not show incidents such as George Floyd, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/31/us/george-floyd-investigation.html,  or Eric Garner, https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/eric-garner-dies-nypd-chokehold, which were killed because of procedures not involving a firearm. They will not include correction officers at any level, such as Damarius Rodriquez, https://www.cbsnews.com/video/mother-of-5-dies-in-jail-amid-alleged-mental-health-episode/#x, or Christopher Howell, https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/breaking-news/os-ne-lake-correctional-officer-arrested-murder-blunt-trauma-20201113-pmm66kirzbfandetiephmvsbqe-story.html. Through neglect or physical assault, inmates have died at the hands of corrections officers.

They do include such victims as Breanna Taylor, https://www.nytimes.com/article/breonna-taylor-police.html, Casey Goodson, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/dec/07/casey-goodson-jr-family-black-ohio-man-shot-dead-white-police-officer, and Daniel Shaver, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OflGwyWcft8

So, let’s break down the numbers. If you look at the overall numbers in total, whites have been shot more by police than any other skin tone. Stats from 2020 (as of November) show the numbers as such: white (370), black (192), hispanic (128), other (21), unknown (153) https://www.statista.com/statistics/585152/people-shot-to-death-by-us-police-by-race/.  But breaking the numbers down per capita (per 1 million residents) the numbers change dramatically: white (13), black (33), hispanic (25), other (5) https://www.statista.com/statistics/1123070/police-shootings-rate-ethnicity-us/

By age, the largest group shot by law enforcement are 20-39. By gender, it’s male https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/investigations/police-shootings-database/. And the numbers can be broken down into other various demographics. The numbers aren’t fully accurate since the databases rely on reported statistics. The reporting is varied and not required. So the FBI states that the actual numbers are not accurate because of it not being required of each department in the US.

Another issue is that reports submitted will give the official police view of the shooting. So essentially, these reports are not vetted for accuracy in the account but take the department’s official version (which usually means the victim is always at fault). 

The rule for the private citizen is that for a danger to life to occur: the person must be facing the citizen, act in a threatening manner, and have the possibility at that precise moment to end the citizen’s life. So shooting a person not being threatening, no weapon, and/or back turned truly disallows an officer to say he shot because he was in fear of his life. 

While I do not accept the idea of no law enforcement, I do advocate for change within the system. Five points need to be addressed to start the process of fixing the problem:

  • Better vetting of applicants
  • Continued viewing of complaints against officers in areas of assault, judgments of firing a weapon
  • Training in areas of de-escalation and mental health
  • Civilian oversight
  • Proper punishment for improper conduct at all levels

True considerations of the use of metal health professionals in certain situations, negotiators when appropriate, use of a person’s family or friends, etc. All of these can be used to de-escalate a situation before it comes to the use of gunfire. There also needs to be full accountability if an officer fires his weapon. Too many times, and officer has mistook actions and fired without understanding the situation at the time, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mRhmFcjs4M, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwHJL5X97Do

I support law enforcement, but agree that the bad need removed and changes truly need to be made. Especially when it comes to minority communities.

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