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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Again, what is NEWS?

So, a case of Ebola has been reportedly confirmed in the US.

Of course this is news.

From today's FB feed:

So you see, a friend shares an NBC report indicating a single case of Ebola in the US.

And my reply is, what about all the other stuff that is far more deadly which is not reported in the news?

So why is Ebola news but the rest is not?

Monday, September 15, 2014

If we invade countries that kill Americans....

....when do we invade America?

Specifically, when do we invade the corporations that keep killing us?

19 deaths linked to GM ignition flaw

19 now. And still growing.

At least THIS is getting some news coverage.

Friday, September 12, 2014

"Lack of criminal justice education"

"Lack of criminal justice education"

This is one of the major explanations for why the media get it so wrong--i.e., for why the news media often make stupid mistakes when it comes to covering crime and criminal justice.

Here is an example of it:

Oscar Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide.  (Getty Images)

Oscar Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide

The former Olympian escaped the more serious charge of murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend.  Faces up to 15 years in jail » 

15 years in JAIL?

Sorry, media, that is not possible. People who are incarcerated for more than a year go to prison, not jail. There is a difference, and it actually matters.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Um, CNN, really? These are LEAD stories?

Why do Americans need to know who Tiger Woods is friends with, or that a British royal couple is having a second baby?

Those are among CNN's top stories today.

NEW Will and Kate expecting 2nd baby
Tiger Woods is friends with WHOM?  Tiger Woods is friends with WHOM?

And here is another of their gems:

Camper sleepwalks off of a cliff  Camper sleepwalks off of a cliff

And another:

Falling gargoyle statue kills woman  Falling gargoyle statue kills woman

And this one is highly suggestive that what CNN is after is simply those voyeuristic souls among us who are not interested in being informed but instead just entertained:

Hammerhead chases swimmers  Hammerhead chases swimmers

So when is the news not the news anymore? Right now. Over at CNN.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Color of Justice

This is a story that just won't seem to go away.

And good thing, too, for it is an important one.

Yes, Blacks commit more than their fair share of (some forms of) crime. This is found to be true whether one uses police statistics, victimization surveys, or even contemporary self-report studies.

But their overrepresentation in criminal justice statistics is not justified just by higher involvement in crime. To my knowledge, there is no credible study that has even been able to explain that Blacks are more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, and have force used again them more simply because they are more likely to break the law.

Studies in places like New York City, for example, find that people of color (i.e., Blacks and Latinos) make up about 90% of people being stopped and frisked by police, but they are no more likely to be found in possession of drugs or weapons. See here and here.

So today's article in The New Yorker titled, "The Color of Justice," is very important.

From the article:

"Few issues divide white and black Americans more sharply than criminal justice. A Pew Research Center poll found that eighty per cent of African-Americans thought the Ferguson case raised important racial issues; only thirty-seven per cent of whites felt the same. And while fewer than one in five African-Americans expressed confidence that the investigation of the shooting would be fair, more than half of whites said that they had confidence in the investigation.

"A report issued today by the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit advocacy group, confirms the old news that whites and blacks view the justice system very differently, largely because of their different treatment by it. The report’s real significance lies in its further contention that this disparity in perceptions contributes to our astonishingly high incarceration rate, the highest in the world.

"White Americans are decidedly more punitive than African-Americans or Hispanics. Sixty-three per cent of whites support the death penalty, as compared to only thirty-six per cent of African-Americans and forty per cent of Hispanics. Whites are also more supportive of other harsh measures, including trying juveniles as adults and “three-strikes” laws. Blacks, by contrast, are substantially more likely to support public investment in education and job training as a crime-prevention measure. Since whites are, for the time being, the majority of the polity, our laws reflect their preferences; American criminal law is dominated by mandatory minimum sentences, life sentences for minor offenses, and the widespread abandonment of parole.

"What explains whites’ preference for harsh criminal laws? Crime victims understandably might favor more punitive responses. But whites are considerably less likely to be victims of crime, especially violent crime: African-Americans are six times more likely than whites to die of homicide. Crime has always been a more serious problem in areas of concentrated urban poverty, and blacks more often live in such neighborhoods. Yet despite their substantially lower vulnerability to crime, whites are more likely than blacks to support punitive crime policies.

"Some people charge that whites use the criminal-justice system as a continuation of Jim Crow by other means. But the Sentencing Project report makes a more subtle point. It finds that whites support tougher criminal laws at least partly because they overestimate black and Hispanic crime rates. Blacks and Hispanics do commit certain crimes more frequently, per capita, than whites, but not all. But whites consistently overestimate the difference, according to one study, by as much as twenty to thirty per cent. That perception affects attitudes toward offenders and sentencing. Studies show that the more whites attribute higher crime rates to blacks and Hispanics, the more likely they are to support harsh criminal laws. It is less that they are consciously seeking to subordinate racial minorities than that they fail to treat the negative consequences of high incarceration rates as their problem. As the report explains, 'attributing crime to racial minorities limits empathy toward offenders and encourages retribution.'

"This is a damning indictment. If anyone were to admit that they preferred the death penalty, life without parole, or harsh sentences because they believe the perpetrators of violent crimes are more likely to be black or Hispanic, we would immediately condemn them as the worst sort of racist. If a prosecutor, judge, or juror expressed such a sentiment, any resulting conviction or sentence would be swiftly overturned. No one admits that they feel this way, but the studies recounted by the Sentencing Project suggest that this is precisely what many white Americans feel."

It is called innocent bias or implicit bias or timid bigotry. Or just call it fear of the criminalblackman, as Dr. Kathryn Russell-Brown calls it.

This is newsworthy for sure.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Do white police officers shoot black suspects more than others?

Turns out we don't know, or at least says an article in the New York Times.

Here is how the article begins:

"IF anything good has come out of this month’s fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., it is that the death of the black teenager shined a spotlight on the plague of shootings of black men by white police officers. And maybe now, the nation will begin to address the racism behind it.

"That is the conventional wisdom, anyway, and maybe it is true. Only a fool would deny that racial bias still pervades aspects of American society. The evidence is clear that some police law-enforcement tactics — traffic stops, to cite one example — disproportionately target African-Americans. And few doubt that blacks are more likely than whites to die in police shootings; in most cities, the percentage almost certainly exceeds the African-American share of the population.

"Such arguments suggest that the use of deadly force by police officers unfairly targets blacks. All that is needed are the numbers to prove it.

"But those numbers do not exist. And because of that, the current national debate over the role of race in police killings is being conducted more or less in a vacuum."

And that is a good start. 

But within the article is information that allows us to draw some tentative conclusions. For example:

Here is a study:

"A more comprehensive analysis exists: Dr. Klinger and Dr. Rosenfeld, among others, examined all 230 instances over 10 years in which officers of the St. Louis police fired their weapons (the city’s police, in contrast to the police in Ferguson involved in Mr. Brown’s shooting).

"Their conclusions, presented last November at the American Society of Criminology’s annual meeting, were striking. Officers hit their targets in about half of the 230 incidents; in about one-sixth, suspects died. Of the 360 suspects whose race could be identified — some fled before being seen clearly — more than 90 percent were African-American.

"But most interesting, perhaps, was the race of the officers who fired their weapons. About two-thirds were white, and one-third black — effectively identical to the racial composition of the St. Louis Police Department as a whole. In this study, at least, firing at a black suspect was an equal-opportunity decision."

Other findings, inconsistent with this one, are mentioned in the article.

Left out are facts identified in the media book:

1) When people think of crime, they tend to think of violent street crime committed by blacks.
2) When people hear news about crime when the suspect's race is not identified, they tend to assumed it is black person.
3) Fear is higher of blacks than whites.

etc. etc. etc.