“No evidence of racial discrimination in criminal justice processing”

Chi Trib’s Clarence Page, 7/10/16, quotes Obama as source and inspiration, which works for him:

President Barack Obama told reporters in Warsaw that the shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota were “symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.”

He cited statistics that showed that blacks and Hispanic Americans were far more likely to be arrested and shot by police and, once charged, to receive longer sentences for the same crimes.

“Sited statistics,” did he? Rather conclusions. In any case not these findings, which agree as to racial disparities in arrests, etc. but not as to their being evidence of racial discrimination:

The study is entitled “No evidence of racial discrimination in criminal justice processing: Results from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health,” It’s presented here in abstract:

One of the most consistent findings in the criminological literature is that African American males are arrested, convicted, and incarcerated at rates that far exceed those of any other racial or ethnic group.

What does one make of that?

This racial disparity is frequently interpreted as evidence [as above by Obama and Page] that the criminal justice system is racist and biased against African American males.


Much of the existing literature purportedly supporting this interpretation . . . fails to estimate . . . statistical models that control for a range of individual-level factors.

Arrestees are not all alike.

The current study was designed to address this shortcoming by analyzing a sample of African American and White males drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

Analysis of these data revealed that African American males are significantly more likely to be arrested and incarcerated when compared to White males.

This racial disparity was completely accounted for after including covariates [“control variables”] for self-reported lifetime violence and IQ. Implications of this study are discussed and avenues for future research are offered.

It all means that when you take into consideration “self-reported lifetime violence” and IQ, you explain the difference (disparities) in arrests, etc. No need to consider race, which statistically has nothing to do with it.

Howls of objection can be heard in response, of course, especially the IQ part.

See here for discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication.