POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY DOUG SAUNDERS IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL
An impartial investigator cannot assume that a disproportionate number of one group in jail means, ipso facto, that prejudice and inequality are at work in the justice system.
That is simply not the way statistics work.
One thing that we do know is that when any phenomenon has very large numbers of observations, something genuine is at work.
A study of a drug that finds a modest difference between taking it and not taking it is rather inconclusive, but when we see large numbers, we know we are seeing a genuine phenomenon.
In the case of young black males and crime, especially violent crime, we see remarkably large differences, the kind of numbers that would convince in a drug study.
Blacks make up about 13% of American society, yet nearly half of all violent crimes are committed by blacks, or more accurately, by young black males who are on the order of 3% of American society.
The numbers are overwhelming, a young black male is many times more likely to commit a violent crime than any other group you care to designate.
In regions of the United States where there are few blacks – say, Maine – violent crime rates are on the order of those in Canada.
In regions of the United States where there are great majorities of blacks, it is a fact that violent crime rates reach third-world levels.
All the violent cities of America – Detroit, Atlanta, Washington, etc – are areas where the population is overwhelmingly black.
Even in portions of large cities, the areas where violent crime is high are black neighborhoods.
You have to ask why that should be.
I cannot accept that it is largely the result of prejudice. After all, black defendants in violent American cities generally face black juries.
We know that in prison populations, people with personality disorders and low intelligence always dominate. It is no different in Canada or anywhere else. Those with little ability to control their impulses tend to end up in prison.
Given the highly physical nature of young black males – they dominate every major team sport despite their small proportion in society – and given a long record of IQ tests administered by the public school systems in the United States for decades (no longer permitted) as well as the American Armed Forces testing of millions of recruits, we do have a statistical record of relatively low intellectual achievement.
That finding tends to be confirmed by blacks not entering in any appreciable numbers fields like finance, law, and science. We also see a very disproportionately low number of blacks who create businesses.
I am not arguing for prejudice, but I am arguing against facile books which generate false arguments.
There is a violent crime problem in American society where black populations are dominant. The numbers are simply not to be reasonably disputed and cannot reasonably be attributed largely to prejudice.
I don’t know what society’s answer should be, but simply yelling “prejudice” is not a thoughtful response.
‘And, as we now see some crime “rates” dropping, if not the total volume of crime. perhaps more prisons have helped save many lives and reduce the numbers of victims.’
There is also the view, by some knowledgeable people, that the worst killers simply wiped each other out during the height of the killings.
There is another view, again put forward by knowledgeable people, that birth control’s becoming widespread slowed the killing.
At the height of the killings, Detroit, having declined to half the population of Toronto, ran at about 900 murders per year and Washington, a much smaller population city than Toronto, at about 450.
In any event, the violent crime rates in places like Detroit, Atlanta, New Orleans, Washington, Miami, while lower than a couple of decades ago remain very high by Canadian standards or indeed the standards of advanced countries.
There are in general two kinds of murder.
There is the “traditional” kind, motivated by extreme passions or personal conflicts. It is also the easiest form of crime to solve, solution rates being high, up to ninety percent, for any good police force because the motive is very clear and there are often unmistakable clues.
The second kind of murder involves people with no known connections and often complete strangers. This kind of murder is extremely difficult to solve because of the apparent lack of motive.
It is the second type of murder that flared up in American cities a few decades back. Many of these were killings over drug territory.
It is the second type that we see so prominently today in Toronto involving Jamaican gangs.