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Race and Crime--Stuntz

Like many who heard it, I was powerfully impressed by Barack Obama’s speech in Philadelphia this week. But I found the speech unsatisfying, because it all but ignores the issue that is central to racial division in twenty-first-century America: crime and criminal punishment.

In his clearest reference to that subject, Obama was guilty of either fuzzy thinking or misplaced political correctness. He used his grandmother’s “fear of black men who passed by her on the street” as an example of racism. It isn’t.

By my calculations, the black murder rate in 2006 stood at 23.7 per 100,000. The white murder rate stood at 3.1. (The links to the relevant sources of data are here and here. I allocated the cases in which the race of the offender is unknown proportionately to the relevant racial groups, as is customary in discussions of these data.) The belief that one of those two groups poses a greater risk of criminal violence is not racist; it’s rational—just as it’s rational to believe that a man of any race poses a greater risk than a woman: the male and female murder rates in 2006 were 10.7 and 1.0. The belief that race and sex have nothing to do with the risk of violent crime isn’t enlightened or virtuous. It’s just wrong.

While white fears of black crime are more reasonable than Obama admits, black rage at a discriminatory justice system is more justified than most whites understand. According to the best available data, blacks are 20% more likely than whites to use illegal drugs. But blacks are an incredible thirteen times more likely to be imprisoned for drug crime. (Data source here). In effect, Americans live under two sets of drug laws: the forgiving set of rules that mostly white suburbanites know, and the unfathomably severe rules that govern urban blacks.

If drug crime is overpunished in black neighborhoods, violent crime is underpunished. Nationwide, police clear nearly 60% of violent crimes (meaning, they arrest the likely offender) in nearly all-white small towns and rural areas. In large cities, police clear fewer than one-third of violent crimes. (Data source here). Race-specific data are unavailable, but it’s a very good bet that black neighborhoods in every major city have clearance rates far below one-third, and most white neighborhoods see rates that are much higher. The bottom line is as simple as it is awful: When whites are robbed, raped, beaten, and killed, their victimizers are usually punished. When the same crimes happen to blacks, the usual result is: nothing. No arrest, no prosecution, no conviction. That is one reason why black neighborhoods are so much more violent than white ones.

In other words, the kinds of criminal punishment that do the most good are undersupplied in black America, and the kinds that do the LEAST good—so far as I know, there is no evidence that the level of drug punishment has any appreciable effect on the level of drug crime—are oversupplied. African Americans live with the worst of both worlds: unfathomably high crime rates, coupled with truly horrifying levels of criminal punishment.

Why? I’ve tried in this draft article to take a stab at answering that question. But for now, suffice it to say that two points are key—and neither of them flows from white racism. First, high-crime city neighborhoods are seriously underpoliced. One of the key lessons of the Iraq surge is that putting more boots on violent ground tends to reduce the violence. The same lesson applies in American cities, but for the most part, the lesson hasn’t been learned. For reasons that mystify me, the same state and federal governments that shower money on urban school systems give nearly nothing to urban police forces. That gets it backward: the correlation between more money and better schools is weak at best; the correlation between more cops and less crime is very strong.

Overstretched big-city police forces tend to make lots of drug arrests, because those arrests are easy to make—and too few arrests for violent crimes, which require more manpower to investigate. Over time, those police forces have come to see drug punishment as a substitute for punishing violent crime. As the crime statistics of the last generation show, that substitution doesn’t work.

The second point is historical. Criminal justice in the United States used to be an exercise in local self-government. That is much less true today. Police officers used to live on the same streets they patrolled—which almost never happens today. Local district attorneys in metropolitan counties were elected by the votes of the urban working class, the same voters who were most often victimized by street crime, and whose sons were most often prosecuted for it. Today, suburban votes count for much more. Locally selected juries used to decide nearly half of all felony cases; today, the analogous figure is 5%. On every front, the power of poor city neighborhoods has declined, and the power of middle- and upper-class suburbs has risen. If criminal justice in poor urban neighborhoods is dysfunctional, that may be because the residents of those neighborhoods are not permitted to decide for themselves how to deal with the crime in their midst.

Those sad changes didn’t happen because of white racism; they happened because of a series of long-term trends: the Great Migration of rural Southern blacks to the urban North, white flight from Northern cities to populous suburbs, the professionalization of urban police, and so on. But the sum of those trends is a system that produces large-scale racial injustice, and that deprives urban black communities of the power to remedy that injustice. One way or another, Americans of all races need to grapple with those facts, and soon.


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» Did Obama Ignore the Elephant in the Room? from StephenBainbridge.com

Bill Stuntz: Like many who heard it, I was powerfully impressed by Barack Obama’s speech in Philadelphia this week. But I found the speech unsatisfying, because it all but ignores the issue that is central to racial division in twenty-firs...

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» Criminal Injustice from Political Animal
CRIMINAL INJUSTICE....Harvard law professor Bill Stuntz, after noting that the black murder rate is 7x hgher than the white murder rate, writes about the criminal justice system in the black community:According to the best available data, blacks are 20... [Read More]

» Race, Crime And Punishment in the United States from The Global Sociology Blog
William Stuntz, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, has a great blog post today on the intersection of race, crime and punishment in the United States, specifically using comparison data regarding crime and punishment rate differentials between Whi... [Read More]

Comments ( 35 )

This has to be the most intelligent, well-reasoned and evidenced post on this subject that I've ever read. Thank you.

"DON'T SNITCH!" That's the reason for the lower crime solution rate in black communities, and it also ensures a higher crime rate since criminals know they're protected by the community itself.

So is the discriminatory justice system the fact that blacks aren't prosecuted as much as they should be for violent crimes? Most of the time, "black rage at the discriminatory justice" seems to call for jury nullification, which would seem counterproductive to adding extra police or increasing the number of jury trials (presumably to increase convictions and jail times for violent crimes). :)

Frankly, since probably a large portion of violent criminals also use drugs, over-arresting for drug crimes doesn't bother me if it's a method to take criminals out of the neighborhood. It may not be effective, but sometimes you do find any port in a storm.

Regarding the discrepancy in clearance rates between urban and rural areas, you overlook the effect that local attitudes towards law enforcement have on the willingness of witnesses to speak to the police. I worked for several years as a police officer in Los Angeles. Residents of the poorer, gang-infested inner city, even when they themselves are victims, are far less likely to cooperate with the police in the investigation of violent crimes. Part of the motivation is purely pragmatic -- witnesses who dare to step forward are seen as "rats" and are targeted for retaliation.

Two powerful factors in the lack of law enforcement for violent crimes in majority black areas: the "no snitch" culture, and the withdrawal of police due to "police brutality" hysteria.

You've put a lot of effort in here. I've done jury duty in urban areas and been struck by three factors that have let obviously guilty violent criminals walk away with "not guilty" judgments:

1) Unwillingness of urban whites to condemn urban black violent offenders.
2) Unwillingness of black women to send black men to jail.
3) Defense attorneys who are vastly more competent than prosecutors.

In my (limited) experience, the only jurors who are very willing to vote "guilty" on obviously guilty black violent criminals are black men with good jobs.

You left out the fact that most of the black crime is against other black people. Even without that, is it really rational to cross the street to avoid someone on the basis of your statistics? Now look up the percentage of violent crimes committed by males of each age group, and see which age group you should avoid regardless of color.

For an argument that the Equal Protection Clause requires the equal provision of law-enforcement services, as suggested at page 8 of the paper, see here and here.

I have to wonder though, how much of the disparity in drug sentencing is economic, not racial? Based on first hand experience (I live in a poor, rural mostly white area), I would wager that poor rural white communities have much higher rates of incarceration for drug offenses than those in more affluent areas. And the policing for drugs is much, much higher, too. I was on the receiving end of a drug raid simply because I buy cold pills twice a month.

Also, while the drug problem probably is just as bad as in poor black areas, violent crime is not. You do get the occasional killing, but it's pretty rare. (I credit it to high rural gun ownership, myself. Everyone knows everyone else has a gun and knows how to use it)

Was going to make the point of the previous commenter, but since it's there already, I'll just agree that the "don't snitch" policy is a huge problem in black neighborhoods, and less so in white.

I have to agree that higher crime neighborhoods need MORE police, not less. But when they appear, some in the neighborhoods themselves clam up even more, sadly, and activists complain of too much police attention.

There isn't any simple solution. But here is one that demands the best from both sides. Black leaders must DEMAND more police attention to their neighborhoods, and accept the consequences. And black leaders must DEMAND that people in their neighborhoods actually testify against criminals, and create support systems to allow them to do so, in some safety. And then the authorities have to honor this, and really go after the bad guys.... and then the black neighborhood leaders have to not go after the cops for doing so. If both sides did these things, in about 5-10 years the problem would be much improved.

I'm a white man who lived in black neighborhoods, more than once... and I got really tired of having my TV's stolen, my car vandalized, and drug dealers and hookers on the street. But that was 1970's Berkeley and East Oakland... and I hear it's worse now. When the cops came to arrest someone, the entire neighborhood poured out to slow them down. I hear reports of the same now.

And a question: do the drug stats differentiate between black/white users and black/white dealers? Or both?

Very thoughtful. Thanks.

More, please . . .

black rage at a discriminatory justice system is more justified than most whites understand.

Sadly too true. In the mid-1970s I was a juvenile probation officer for a short period of time. The bias in juvenile court astounded me.

How can they expect young blacks to grow up to respect the police, courts, etc. when they treat them so unfairly?

Very well reasoned and you are right that we had better take this stuff seriously very soon to our own peril if we don't.

Your mention of more troops in Iraq helping to quell the violence is only part of the answer. The counter insurgency tactics are more responsible and the lessons learned should be studied by police departments ASAP. Yes, you need boots on the ground with fire power in excess of the enemy, but you also need paid locals watching the neighborhoods 24 hours a day providing intelligence on the bad guys.

There is no reason these sick areas cannot be cleansed but it will local political courage, not top down federal government intervention.

This is a very interesting article. I certainly agree with the comments regarding "snitching" as above. I wonder if more blacks would assist police if they believed the police were really there to help them, and they could be less afraid of retribution?

What about corrupt police? Some cities have been famous for this (New York, as in Serpico's story? New Orleans?). My husband, a white native of Texas and an attorney, has profound distrust of police--he thinks they are often lazy if not criminal.

Your comments about local law enforcement remind me of several high-profile murders committed by whites, who initially alledged a black man had been the perpetrator. In urban Boston the police were unable to apprehend Charles Stuart, who shot his 8-months-pregnant wife in the head, before Stuart was able to claim a black man did it, get his brother to dispose of the weapon, and jump off a bridge to his death some months afterward. In retrospect it seems kinda dumb they didn't look more closely at Stuart initially and doggedly pursue him; he was having affairs, and had faked an assault on himself by shooting himself in the stomach (but the local doctors thought his wounds suspicious for self-inflicted trauma). Isn't it considered highly likely that a female murder victim was killed by a man who knew her, and often is an intimate partner?

In contrast, when Susan Smith sent her young sons into water in her car, to drown, she too claimed a black man had committed the crime. This was somewhere in the South, one of the Carolinas I think. But the local sheriff never bought that story--he knew it just didn't make sense, and was able to get a confession from her within days. I'm guessing it's because he knew his community, and maybe was more methodical to start. It seems likely the Boston police were covering neighborhoods (and people) they don't live in or know well, like you suggest above.

Very good article.
Where did you get that 5% figure on jury make up for felony cases?
You must know anyway that very few cases, misdemeanor or felony, get close to a trial. Plea bargaining is a more juicy and shameful aspect of the inequality of treatment argument.
As to the 5% though, I've practiced law for 27 years, and I would say that is not correct.
I think, in other regards, that black men, about 6 to 8 % of the population, account for the majority (or darn close to it) of violent crime for which a conviction is obtained. Now, the last phrase of that previous sentence is telling, and I agree there's some, too much, empirical evidence to deny that black men who hurt whites get punished more severely than black men who hurt blacks or white men who hurt whites. White women are practically immune from the treatment both white and black men receive all the time very mean police.
I agree with a previous contributor though; it may have a lot to do with economics.
But, I guess my comment, seeing as I am a white guy, might be expected, even typical.

"According to the best available data, blacks are 20% more likely than whites to use illegal drugs. But blacks are an incredible thirteen times more likely to be imprisoned for drug crime."

Well, perhaps. But why are you comparing imprisonment rates using black/white "use" statistics versus black/white "drug crimes"? Why not use imprisonment rates for black use versus white use and black drug crimes versus white drug crimes for a direct comparison. You invite readers to suspect that you are avoiding more logical comparisons.

According to the best available data, blacks are 20% more likely than whites to use illegal drugs. But blacks are an incredible thirteen times more likely to be imprisoned for drug crime.

I think the argument is basically right, but the statistics you're citing aren't quite fair. Most of those imprisoned for drug crimes are not imprisoned for possession for personal consumption so comparing the rate at which blacks use drugs to the rate at which blacks are imprisoned for drug crimes doesn't really mean much.

For those concerned about possible discriminatory treatment by the judicial system, how about this: don't commit a crime. Yes, I am aware that people can be wrongly imprisoned. But that's not why most people are in prison.

If drug crime is overpunished in black neighborhoods, violent crime is underpunished

Why do I have the sneaking suspicion that you are one of those folks with the drug legalization agenda?

Actually, I was wondering myself whether this is an argument for drug legalization. I'm not keen one way or the other, because I have mixed feelings about the consequences. But it seems to me fairly obvious that one reason there is so much violent crime in the inner-city is because the drug trade is illegal.
Mr. Stuntz (perhaps in another post), what say you?

As previous commenters have said, "DON'T SNITCH!" is a big reason for the low clearing rate in urban areas. And putting more police into urban areas would indeed draw allegations of racism from demagogues like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

The best crime fighting tool in any neighborhood, rich, poor, black, or white is good parenting. I have been in law enforcement for 30 years and worked in large urban areas such as Philadelphia, Newark, Camden, and Trenton. Two sober, sane, loving, spiritual, hardworking, involved parents rarely produce criminals. Please note that I did not say rich or powerful, or educated, because those factors don't mean anything. To say poverty causes crime is an insult to all of the millions who endured the Great Depression without committing crimes. Most major cities don't have a crime problem, they have a spiritual problem. Children having children, with no idea how to parent effectively. Young mothers can control their boys for about 12 years, until they (the boys) are old enough and big enough to intimidate their mothers. After that, it's all over and everything else, policing, corrections, job programs, drug treatment, etc. is attempting to close the barn door and round up the horses. Good luck. Most major crime rates dropped in the 90's due to high incarceration rates of those most likely to commit crimes. Three strikes laws and mandatory sentencing saved thousands of lives. Look at the murder rate in NY City. Alas, the pendulum has begun to swung into the treatment mode, a popular model when I began my career in the mid 1970's. It's not their fault, they are a product of their environment, etc. Now as I approach retirement, it's the same thing. They need jobs, they need treatment, they need a doctor, they need Naltrexone (to keep them off drugs and alcohol), they need a counselor. Most of it is bunk, but criminals are master manipulators and have convinced the powers that be that they need another shot (their 100th shot in most cases). Probably in 20 years, as I enter the old folks' home, mandatory minimums and three strikes laws will be exhumed and hailed as the answer. Good luck to all my younger peers who try to keep the public safe and I will say a prayer for all the victims who suffer at the hands of defendants who should have been in jail when they committed their odious crimes but were let out by well meaning, but ill-informed judges, at the behest of out-of-touch mental health professionals.

" Race-specific data are unavailable, but it’s a very good bet that black neighborhoods in every major city have clearance rates far below one-third, and most white neighborhoods see rates that are much higher."

The data is staring you in the face. Black on Black crime is the problem. The solution is greater Police visibility. Lots of it.

I'm far more likely to report a crime because I'm not as fearful of the end result as say someone in a high crime neighborhood. When you do saturate an area with Police then the folks who stand to gain the most will complain the most. I would bet they have made an estimate of the value of a safe neighborhood against the value of an unsafe one and concluded that criome does pay.

Janemarie -

It's not just your Texan husband. I'm awfully law-abiding - I don't speed, I don't use drugs - but I don't trust cops. It's not that I haven't met a few that I felt were in it for the right reasons, but that they were vastly outnumbered by a bunch of petty tyrants and thrill-seekers.

In the past year, I've had the opportunity to meet some local sheriff's deputies. Not one has remarked about catching a real, honest-to-goodness bad guy. No, they talk about high-speed pursuits ("I was doing 100 mph to get to the scene, I even beat the helicopter!") and idiotic displays of force (a man who stole his car back from the repo man was pulled from it at gunpoint without, in the telling, any evidence that they believed he was armed or dangerous, or indeed likely at all to do anything harmful). As far as I can tell, they're a bit like the guys in one of our suburbs that has a SWAT team. This quiet place has essentially zero criminal activity, and barely has a population, but it's got a SWAT team, by God.

Oh, and the police of my home city have been caught escorting drug shipments through town to prevent them from facing untoward attention from the highway patrol or rival dealers.

Do people actually *trust* police elsewhere? I mean, I report crimes and such, but have very little expectation that anything will be done about them.

According to the best available data, blacks are 20% more likely than whites to use illegal drugs. But blacks are an incredible thirteen times more likely to be imprisoned for drug crime.

Misleading your readers? That statistic does not prove what you wish to imply it proves.

Any responsible journalist or blogger would see the need to compare sentences *for the same circumstances*, not just lump all drug crimes together and cry racism.

Will a person who has a past history of crimes be more likely to get a longer jail sentence? Yes, and your own high-crime data imply that blacks having longer rap sheets might be a factor. But lumping all drug crimes together prohibits us from checking.

Will a drug dealer get a longer sentence than a drug user? Yes, and again the lumping hides this factor from our sight. By design?

Why are you not comparing apples to apples (same crimes, circumstances) but instead comparing bushels of mixed fruit and leading us to guess that each bushel has the same amount of apples? So you'll forgive us if we ask if there's really any apples in the first bushel.

Why do I have the sneaking suspicion that you are one of those folks with the drug legalization agenda?

Because the article is rational, and that is the most rational answer to the problem?

Good blog in general, but a quibble:

. The belief that race and sex have nothing to do with the risk of violent crime isn’t enlightened or virtuous. It’s just wrong.

This judgment is not properly supported by the evidence cited in the article and, in fact, I believe grossly in error (at least on the racial aspect).

I invite the author to first control for socio-economic status, and then compare the rate of violent crimes in your racial populations. Otherwise, it seems the author is suggesting that if I'm in downtown Manhattan and see a black man in a suit and tie exiting a bank (or some such thing), I should assume he's more likely to commit a violent crime than, say, the white guy on the corner who clearly has slept on the streets for months and is loitering, glancing around, etc.

Comparing the two populations like that without trying to control for the fact that there are enormous differences in the % of each population that live in/near poverty is, well, basically a mistake. Add to that the suggestion that one of the reasons so many blacks live in poverty are institutional legacies from Jim Crow, and it becomes even more suspect (if you agree with that latter suggestion) Race is not the operative factor here, or at least certainly not the only operative factor.

The fact that most of us would not be scared of the well-dressed black man, while most of us would try to avoid the shifty, impoverished white guy, suggests that we already know this, at least implicitly.

I wonder how this post fits in with the earlier post on this blog about prison and corporate criminals. Isn't one example of the disparity between poor (usually black) crooks and rich (usually white) crooks the idea that "if you rob $10k from a bank with a gun, you get ten years, while if you rob $10 million from a bank with a computer, you might get only two or three?"

Interesting, because a number of antiracists activists and other good people have found evidence to the contrary. I've looked on the CDC website and the FBI website and I've found evidence to the contrary. However, if you slice and dice the information you can prove whatever point you are attempting to prove. I was looking for violent crimes arrests vs convictions and I found that more white people are arrested for violent crimes than people of color, yet people of color make up a much higher level of convictions. We won't even get into the drug disparity. The fact that African Americans are less likely to use or to sell drugs yet we make up the majority of the convictions. If you choose to post this I will follow up with footnotes. I won't make the assertions without backing it up from credible sources.


Age of offender black white

violent crimes 169525 266681 0.64
property crimes 354244 791165 0.45
Crime index 514769 1057846 0.49
other assaults 286787 610946 0.47
sex offenses (not including rape) 15745 50378 0.31
murder (which is incl. in violent cr) 5047 4814 1.05

greatest disparities in the juvenile justice system’s response to youth of color involve the number
of youth arrested, and prosecuted for drug offenses. While African American youth comprise
17% of the youth population[3], African American youth represent 27% of all drug violation
arrests, and comprise 48% of the youth detained for a drug offense.
“Contrary to popular assumption, at all three grade levels African American youth have
substantially lower rates of use of most licit and illicit drugs than do Whites.”— Monitoring the
Future Survey, 2004.
[3] Howard N. Snyder’s Juvenile Arrests 2001. (December, 2003). Office of Juvenile Justice and
Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice: Washington, D.C.

African American Youth Are Treated Differently By the Juvenile Justice System
Drugs. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, among youths aged 12 to
17, the rate of current illicit drug use was 11.1 % among whites, and 9.3% among African
Americans.[4] In a previous year, the same survey found that white youth aged 12 to17
are more than a third more likely to have sold drugs than African American youth.[5] The
Monitoring the Future Survey of high school seniors shows that white students annually
use cocaine at 4.6 times the rate of African Americans students, use crack cocaine at 1.5
times the rate of African Americans students, and use heroin at the same rate of African
Americans students, and that white youth report annual use of marijuana at a rate 46%
higher than African American youth.[6] However African American youth are arrested
for drug offenses at about twice the rate (African American 314 per 100,000, white 175
per 100,000) times that of whites,[7] and African American youth represent nearly half
(48%) of all the youth incarcerated for a drug offense in the juvenile justice system.[8]
Weapons. According to the Center on Disease Control’s annual Youth Risk Behavior
Survey, in 2001 whites and African Americans reported similar rates of carrying a
weapon (whites 17.9%, African Americans 15.2%), and similar rates of carrying a gun
(whites 5.5%, and African Americans, 6.5%).[9] African American youth represent 32%
of all weapons arrests, and were arrested for weapons offenses at a rate twice that of
whites (69 per 100,000, versus 30 per 100,000).[10]
Assault. According to the Center on Disease Control’s annual Youth Risk Behavior Survey,
African Americans report being in a physical fight at a similar rate (36.5%, versus 32.5%
for whites), but were arrested for aggravated assault at a rate nearly three times that of
whites (137 per 100,000, versus 48 per 100,000).

Wow. You use a number of misleading and inaccurate arguments to make your points -- inaccuracies it would take a criminologist to be able to discover. For example you use arrest data to try and prove that there is a difference in drug use rates across white and minority groups. Arrest data already contains a discovery bias -- you need use data from other sources such as the National Institue of Drug Abuse study "Drug Use Among Racial and Ethnic Minotities." Here you would discover that adjusted for population size, most drug users are white.

Speaking of populaiton adjustments, the standardized practice of representing crime as a ratio to 100,000 citizens is useful for comparing likelihood across populations, but will tend to be misleading when copmarisons are made across racial groups because the number of racial groups are not equivalent (i.e., there are not an equal number of Black and whites in the population). The consequence -- when you use this approach you overestimate the black contribution to the aggregate level of crime. So, the probability of being the victim of murder (or the victim of many other crimes) is higher for Blacks than for whites. But, crime is intraracial, so black victims are more likely to have black offenders, and white victims white offenders. In addition, there is, in the aggregate, a larger number of white offenders because there are several times as many whites in a population compared to black (e.g., the population is 72% white and 12% Black; or there are 6 times as many whites as black). In addtion, as another response noted, the analysis fails to address the INTRARACIAL nature of crime, So, while you say whites should fear crime, they shouldn't fear black criminals since the people that victimize them are most likely to be white. Rational whites should fear other whites.

What is also left out of this picture is that you have focused on what is arguably the smallest and least serious portion of crime -- street crimes. Corporate and environmental crimes, which are committed primarily (and by primarily I mean more than 90% of the time) by white offenders cost more in death, injury and property loss than street crimes. As a criminologists, my rational fear is of a white coproate criminal, one who pollutes, for instance. For example, about 30% of the US population is exposed to water that violates water quality laws each day; tens of millions of people are also exposed to toxic air pollution; exposure to diesel exhaust shortens the lives of or kills numerous people each year. Just these violations alone total more than all the street crime violations in a year. For example, there is a 30% increase in lung cancer among workers exposed to desiel exhaust; at 1 microgram/cubic meter of air, it is estimated that an average of 230/1,000,000 contract lung cancer. In urban areas within California, the average exposure level to desiel exhaust is 23 microgram/cubic meter, meaning that a significantly higher number of residents would be expected to die prematurely from exposure to diesel exhaust as a result of contracting cancer -- which, in California urban areas alone is expectdd to cause 12,000 cases a year. In Los Angeles alone, the EPA estimated that the level of exposure to air pollutants cause 3,000 additional deaths annually. In the year this estimate was produced (1996) approximately 556 Los Angles residents ded from homicide. (Someone might what to claim that this is just the price of progress; but we could make the same argument about street crime as well).

I could go on. But I hope I've made my point.

This unequal prosecution of offenders is the new segregation. No longer do Blacks have to sit in the back of the bus, but now they have to sit in jail. It is grossly unfair how Whites are cleared whereas Blacks are prosecuted. Keep writing about this, maybe people will wake up and listen some day.

The ratios of punishment to crime definitely don't add up. I don't want to believe there is any prejudice in the system, but...