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 Post subject: Re: "Privilege"
PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 5:12 pm 
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axordil wrote:
Yov--

I think what the study is saying is that the act of focusing itself is problematic: we shouldn't look just at cops or at employers and expect to understand the problem, when the problem extends much farther. We want to break problems down into their constituent parts, but there's a point beyond which we're actually losing needed perspective. The act of zooming in, of attempting to control variables, actually loses information.


Yes and no. You can't expect to focus on one aspect of a large system and expect to understand that system. But you do have to focus on the individual aspects if you expect to find the causes of problems within that system. When troubleshooting, you don't look at "the system", you look at all the parts that make up the system to identify the problem parts. If you find employers actions aren't the whole cause of the gender wage gap, then you have to go examine which other parts might be.

Which is exactly what the article your article referenced to does and is why I think it's by far the best thing I've read on the subject to date. It looks at each piece of the justice system, starting with police stops and ending in court sentencing, and looks at the available data on racial discrimination. His final conclusion after looking at all of that excellent (though of course, always imperfect) data feels so important I'm going to post most of it here though I think anyone really interested in an impartial look at this subject should read the whole thing:

http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/11/25/ra ... d-to-know/

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Summary

There seems to be a strong racial bias in capital punishment and a moderate racial bias in sentence length and decision to jail.

There is ambiguity over the level of racial bias, depending on whose studies you want to believe and how strictly you define “racial bias”, in police stops, police shootings in certain jurisdictions, and arrests for minor drug offenses.

There seems to be little or no racial bias in arrests for serious violent crime, police shootings in most jurisdictions, prosecutions, or convictions.

Overall I disagree with the City Journal claim that there is no evidence of racial bias in the justice system.

But I also disagree with the people who say things like “Every part of America’s criminal justice is systemically racist by design” or “White people can get away with murder but black people are constantly persecuted for any minor infraction,” or “Every black person has to live in fear of the police all the time in a way no white person can possibly understand”. The actual level of bias is limited and detectable only through statistical aggregation of hundreds or thousands of cases, is only unambiguously present in sentencing, and there only at a level of 10-20%, and that only if you believe the most damning studies.

It would be nice to say that this shows the criminal justice system is not disproportionately harming blacks, but unfortunately it doesn’t come anywhere close to showing anything of the sort. There are still many ways it can indirectly harm blacks without being explicitly racist. Anatole France famously said that “the law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich as well as poor people from begging for bread and sleeping under bridges”, and in the same way that the laws France cites, be they enforced ever so fairly, would still disproportionately target poor people, so other laws can, even when fairly enforced, target black people. The classic example of this is crack cocaine – a predominantly black drug – carrying a higher sentence than other whiter drugs. Even if the police are scrupulously fair in giving the same sentence to black and white cokeheads, the law will still have a disproportionate effect.

There are also entire classes of laws that are much easier on rich people than poor people – for example, any you can get out of by having a good lawyer – and entire classes of police work that are harsher on poor neighborhoods than rich neighborhoods. If the average black is poorer than the average white, then these laws would have disproportionate racial effects.

(all emphasis mine)

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 Post subject: Re: "Privilege"
PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 5:43 pm 
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The takeaway I got from the article was that you can't make antiseptic comparisons of a particular action with respect to black and white without considering the co-morbidities of income, type of employment, place of residence, quality of education, drugs of choice, etc. You can say "see, it's not so bad when you control for all those things" but more to the point, you can say "see, there is still racism surrounding that particular action even when you strip all those things away that were also partly caused by systematic racism".

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 Post subject: Re: "Privilege"
PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2015 7:42 pm 
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The disparity in sentencing, however, has HUGE systemic implications for the black community. The crack vs. cocaine sentencing difference, as just one example, was a policy that quite deliberately ensured that black (and poorer) people would get harsher sentences than their largely white (and/ or wealthier) cocaine snorting counterparts. There have been positive victories on this front in recent years, but not before millions of black and/ or poor lives were decimated by out of proportion sentencing, while cocaine users got a slap on the wrist and an encouragement to keep on partying hard.

And that's just a sentencing disparity on ONE issue.

If you go to jail for a very long time, a healthy reintegration into society becomes more and more difficult. Not to mention the suffering of dependence, etc. As you note, blacks are far more likely to receive harsher sentences than caucasians for the very same crime. This creates a justice disparity that is wide indeed, and should not be sniffed at.


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 Post subject: Re: "Privilege"
PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2015 7:44 pm 
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narya wrote:
The takeaway I got from the article was that you can't make antiseptic comparisons of a particular action with respect to black and white without considering the co-morbidities of income, type of employment, place of residence, quality of education, drugs of choice, etc. You can say "see, it's not so bad when you control for all those things" but more to the point, you can say "see, there is still racism surrounding that particular action even when you strip all those things away that were also partly caused by systematic racism".


Also, this. It's also easy to conclude that the data shows not that bad of a picture, if you're not on the short end of this "not that bad" disparity.


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 Post subject: Re: "Privilege"
PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2015 8:06 pm 
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Passdagas the Brown wrote:
The disparity in sentencing, however, has HUGE systemic implications for the black community. The crack vs. cocaine sentencing difference, as just one example, was a policy that quite deliberately ensured that black (and poorer) people would get harsher sentences than their largely white (and/ or wealthier) cocaine snorting counterparts. There have been positive victories on this front in recent years, but not before millions of black and/ or poor lives were decimated by out of proportion sentencing, while cocaine users got a slap on the wrist and an encouragement to keep on partying hard.

And that's just a sentencing disparity on ONE issue.

If you go to jail for a very long time, a healthy reintegration into society becomes more and more difficult. Not to mention the suffering of dependence, etc. As you note, blacks are far more likely to receive harsher sentences than caucasians for the very same crime. This creates a justice disparity that is wide indeed, and should not be sniffed at.


Sure. The point, by me or that author, wasn't to say that wasn't a significant problem. Instead it is to point out that blanket systems that "the whole system is broken!" are no more honest and true than "the whole system is fine!" and in both cases, these kinds of views are harmful because they make it harder to diagnose and address the areas that need fixing. But more than that, if you believe that the entire cultural system that you live in is working against you, well, that's gotta be pretty darn discouraging and psychologically damaging and would surely lead to many lives lived at far less than their potential.

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 Post subject: Re: "Privilege"
PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2015 8:50 pm 
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But most of the system, even based on the data you provided, is indeed broken! Parts of it may not be AS BROKEN as some advocates have described, but there's still a systematic racial bias across most of the criminal justice system. If I was black, I would find it very hard to be patriotic about the current system of governance in the United States, based solely on this reality.


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 Post subject: Re: "Privilege"
PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2015 9:43 pm 
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Passdagas the Brown wrote:
But most of the system, even based on the data you provided, is indeed broken!



Hm? Only the sentencing aspect in that review came out with clear racial problems. The others were somewhere between ambiguous to not there.

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 Post subject: Re: "Privilege"
PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2015 5:26 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: "Privilege"
PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 3:49 pm 
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After looking through the DOJ report on Ferguson, the previous hand-wringing conversation about whether there's institutional racism in the justice system seems rather quaint.

Clearly there are places, and Ferguson's just the tip of the iceberg, where institutional racism isn't merely present but the guiding principle of police departments.


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 Post subject: Re: "Privilege"
PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 4:02 pm 
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Indeed.

And then the spokesman for the St. Louis police union had the gall to say in response to the report that instead of focusing on racial bias we should be focusing on why "kids like Michael Brown" put themselves in positions where they have confrontations with police. The lack of awareness is so shocking that it makes me despair of any possibility of real change.

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 Post subject: Re: "Privilege"
PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 4:25 pm 
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Ah, I didn't know this was out. Good to know. I'm going to try to read, or at least skim through, the (105 page) report in the upcoming days. Good to see what is hopefully some real, solid data on the subject instead of anecdotes and assumptions.

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 Post subject: Re: "Privilege"
PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 5:34 pm 
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I should read it, too, because what I know is based on aghast responses in the media. But "aghast" certainly sounds right at this point. The police "relationship" with the Ferguson community appears to bear a strong resemblance to the "relationship" between an occupying army and those in the territory it occupies.

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 Post subject: Re: "Privilege"
PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 5:39 pm 
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Some of the stuff is pretty astounding. However, I would venture to say that Ferguson is not so unique.

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 Post subject: Re: "Privilege"
PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:16 am 
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I was listening to a piece about this on NPR. The host was talking to some sort of social scientist at UCLA. There were a couple things that stood out to me about what the guy said. First, that while Ferguson may not be unique, it's one of the worst. Second, the police department is merely the face of the problem. The institutional racism exposed in the Ferguson Police Department is not confined to them. It's pervasive throughout all the city's civil institutions. From what I've personally seen of the report, I'm inclined to agree. The FPD could not get away with such rampant abuse of Black Fergusonites without the rest of the city government supporting and encouraging them and that support and encouragement does come through in the segments of the report I've seen.

I have little that is tasteful to say about where to go from here. There was a municipality in Florida that basically lost its right to exist due to utterly rampant corruption (and yes, the police were involved in that corruption; when a city or town goes down the dark path the cops end up being their bosses' enforcers). Perhaps that's what needs to happen to Ferguson. If not, well, how do you clean something that's rotten to its core?

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 Post subject: Re: "Privilege"
PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:32 am 
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I can think of two dozen municipalities in St. Louis County that should be disincorporated, and that's off the top of my head. Ferguson's not the worst of them, but it is the largest, and the only one that dates back farther than the 1940s.


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 Post subject: Re: "Privilege"
PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:50 am 
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If they were disincorporated, then would the county sheriffs take over? And are they better or worse?

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 Post subject: Re: "Privilege"
PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:11 pm 
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The county police have their own issues--they're no less militarized--but they don't view the population as a municipal revenue source. The county as a whole has a sufficient tax base, as opposed to the little fiefdoms carved out in the 30s-50s.

To their credit, the tiny municipality I grew up in, which abuts Ferguson on the south, actually got rid of their police and contracted with the county to provide police services. They haven't burned to the ground yet.


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 Post subject: Re: "Privilege"
PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 3:03 pm 
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In our town, police and fire take up the lion's share of the general fund. For years, Public Works (which does all maintenance and upgrades on buildings, parks, streets, sewer, and storm drainage) was required to do so without any general funds - just transportation taxes, sewer tax, and whatever grants we could scrape together. While on the Public Safety side, they are making $200,000 per year and retiring with full pay at 50. A recent study by an independent evaluator said we need only 3 fire stations to efficiently provide fire and paramedic service, and could close down the other two. So now we are building another fire station. The mayor and the city manager still think they are running the city....

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 Post subject: Re: "Privilege"
PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2015 4:31 am 
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Looks like the State of Missouri just took over the municipal court in Ferguson: link. Hopefully more house-cleaning will follow.

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 Post subject: Re: "Privilege"
PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2015 5:06 am 
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Quote:
[Ferguson municipal Judge] Brockmeyer was criticized in the Justice Department report for acting as a revenue generator for the court and the city, helping to bring in millions through “creative” use of fines and fees, while dismissing tickets for himself and friends. The report also rapped him for instilling fear in traffic defendants, even jailing one for 10 days because the man refused to answer questions in court.


That's a pretty spectacular level of corruption, for the US.

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