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When sentencing young lawbreakers, race matters, study finds

Original post made on Jun 2, 2012

People's opinions on whether youth who break the law should be sentenced as adults vary significantly when a single word -- black or white -- is used to describe the defendant, a new study by Stanford University's Department of Psychology has found.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, June 2, 2012, 10:14 AM

Comments (31)

Posted by American justice, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 2, 2012 at 10:35 am

Not only do minorities face harsher sentences for the same crimes, minorities also often have poorer legal representation, less sympathy from juries and judges, and are more likely to be wrongfully convicted. Hopefully studies like this that actually measure the disparity can help to correct it.


Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 2, 2012 at 10:52 am

Not to mention the socio-economic disparities that contribute to the crime cycle. This dynamic alone has a huge impact on the disproportionate percentage of ethnic minorities that are introduced and sustain a criminal life. There are many other layers that play into these societal results that occur long before we begin to analyze the issues of fairness and justice. It certainly makes for a strong argument that we need to provide support and more positive options to young people, from a very early age, to circumvent a path to crime, gang affiliation, and substance abuse.


Posted by outrageous practices, a resident of Nixon School
on Jun 2, 2012 at 10:58 am

Editor: great post.

This article just highlights sentencing. Pile on racial profiling out on the street, and one sees how things get compounded for persons of color.

The classic (in it's worst sense) example is NYC's stop and frisk program (no probable cause) in 2011. 700,000 stops, 85%+ for persons of color. No probable cause, consent or warrant.

In 2011, 685,724 New Yorkers were stopped by the police.
350,743 were black (53 percent).
223,740 were Latino (34 percent).

Sure, crime is down 29% in New York.

It's also down MORE in other major cities, without these outrageous policies. Los Angeles, violent crime is down 59 percent; New Orleans, down 56 percent; Dallas, down 49 percent; Baltimore down 37 percent, all in the same period.

fwiw, I'm white. I cannot conceive of the feelings that must engender to be targeted in such a way.

No probable cause, consent or warrant.

I know when I say the following 'imagine' statement, the bellicose answer will be - "wahhhh, if you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about...."

Clearly anyone who claims the above, has never been targeted purely for the color of their skin or any other unjustifiable reason.

No probable cause, consent or warrant. Imagine what it would be like to have your child targeted without cause.


Posted by Gene, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2012 at 11:22 am

from the described study model:

>The researchers gave two groups of participants a written scenario based on one of the Supreme Court cases. In it, a 14-year-old male with 17 prior juvenile convictions brutally raped an elderly woman and received a life sentence without parole.

The scenario was identical for both groups, with one exception: the race of the defendant.

The participants were asked how much they agreed or disagreed with two questions: "To what extent do you support life sentences with no possibility of parole for juveniles when they have been convicted of serious violent crimes in which no one was killed?" and "How much do you believe that juveniles who commit crimes such as these should be considered less blameworthy than an adult who committed the same crime?"

Here is the problem: Where do you find over 700 white people, especially in the area, who know of any white juvenile delinquents (jd's) with this kind of previous record? However, they probably have read somewhere about one or more black jd's with that kind of a track record, perhaps in EPA. If whites found the underlying premise credible, I suspect that the gap would close.

The bottom line is that this was a poorly designed study.


Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 2, 2012 at 11:28 am

To Outrageous, and saying this with the reality of abuse that will occur, in California at least a police officer must have at minimum a reasonable suspicion to detain someone and articulable facts to justify a frisk or pat search. When you cite "probable cause", that is what an officer must have established in order to make an arrest. Obviously the threshold to justify a detention is less than what it requires to make an arrest.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, socio-economics plays heavy into many of these disparities and disproportionate crime statistics involving ethnic minorities. We should also take that into consideration when seeking out the root problem. Police departments across the country are most definitely going to target high crime areas. The majority of high crime areas, especially in urban areas, tend to be economically depressed. They also experience much higher rates of school drop-outs and unemployment. These areas are also in many cases comprised of ethnic minority populations. One only needs to look at the most challenging areas to police here in the Bay Area, which would certainly be consistent with the national trend. It also explains why the vast majority of known gang members, especially here in the Bay Area, are indeed represented by ethnic minorities.

With those areas drawing more police attention due to gang activity and violent crime, I am not the least bit surprised that the resulting statistics are equally disproportionate. Again, I am not dismissing that abuses have taken place. With the human element involved and the police being tasked with a highly complicated, difficult, and dangerous job, abuses will always occur. I happen to believe however that it is not police abuse or their perception of what or who is suspicious that results in these lopsided numbers. I maintain that these statistical results are much more influenced by the reality of crime trends, where the crime is occurring, and by virtue of socio-economics who is committing the most visible and violent street crime.

In order to get to the root of the problem, we cannot simply cast blame at the police, the judicial system, and the issue of crime and punishment. Long term change will not occur until we give young people, starting at a very early age, more support and positive outlets. This needs to come in the form of programs in athletics, the arts, and personal development. Crime fighting efforts will continue to operate at this rate until we spend at least as much time and effort in creating jobs. Without these positive alternatives, people without hope for the future, especially young people, will begin to turn to negative role models and choices. Collectively there is more we can do to balance the scales and bring about change that will last.


Posted by outrageous practices, a resident of Nixon School
on Jun 2, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Phil - "In order to get to the root of the problem, we cannot simply cast blame at the police, the judicial system, and the issue of crime and punishment."

Of course.

Nor can we afford to ignore problems in the areas of "the police, the judicial system, and the issue of crime and punishment."

In my opinion, where does your 'hammer' squarely hit the nail on the head?

Jobs.

Good post.

.........

Gene - "who know of any white juvenile delinquents (jd's) with this kind of previous record?"

Ignoring the fact that a lot of us do, over the course of our lifetimes, one notes you added the word phrase "juvenile delinquents". No where in the report do they mention "juvenile delinquents".

One also notes that in the face of a study with actual facts and statistics, your summary was "I suspect that..."


Posted by Gene, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2012 at 12:31 pm

>17 prior juvenile convictions

@outrageous:

That, easily, makes a juvenile delinquent...more probably a juvenile thug.

> Ignoring the fact that a lot of us do (know white jd's with this kind of record in this area).

Name one case.

Poorly designed studies are very suspect.


Posted by outrageous practices, a resident of Nixon School
on Jun 2, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Gene: my bad, upon review I misread a section. Agreed it makes a thug, probably worse. However, you can't start adding interpretations (like your jd comment) and use the the same data to summarize with "I suspect...".

After all, the inherent racism in your premise (am NOT calling you a racist!) "If whites found the underlying premise credible, I suspect that the gap would close"

...is that you are saying whites find it credible that a black suspect can do it while a white suspect can't or wouldn't.


Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2012 at 1:21 pm

> It also explains why the vast majority of known gang members,
> especially here in the Bay Area, are indeed represented by
> ethnic minorities.

You mean like young people who are here in the country illegally, typically from nearby countries like Mexico?

So .. what do you propose that the American taxpayer do to create more jobs in Mexico, so that these youth do not come across the border and commit the crimes that they do?


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2012 at 1:23 pm



The majority of Black prison inmates are there for drug crimes.

Solution-

1/ treat drug minor users as a public health matter rather than a criminal justice matter

2/ impose the death penalty for major drug dealers-as in Singapore and many other countries.


Posted by Gene, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2012 at 1:29 pm

>...is that you are saying whites find it credible that a black suspect can do it while a white suspect can't or wouldn't.

@outrageous: I am saying that a purely white adult sample (part of the study design) from this area does not know of any similar example (17 priors).

I was rasied in a blue collar (mostly white) working class town, and we had our jd's, but even there, I don't remember 17 priors. BTW, the whites in my home town came down hard on their own (white) jd's.

I think the study design is flawed, because it set up a red herring: White people, think of the worst possible jd you can think of...then describe him as white or black. White people will think, 'well, the only juveniles I can think of that MIGHT have 17 priors are Black; I have read about black youths in EPA that have long rap records'.

This study would have a better design, if it left out the long rap record. Just ask about a rape of an older woman, with the perp being white or black. I suspect the gap would be closed, meaning it does not really exist, and this study should not be newsworthy.

Garbage in, garbage out.


Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Maybe if we just got rid of treating teens differently than adults for serious crimes, then any possible race-related bias could be designed out of the system.


Posted by outrageous practices, a resident of Nixon School
on Jun 2, 2012 at 1:41 pm

@Wondering? - "do you propose that the American taxpayer do to create more jobs in Mexico" ?

You're a little bit behind history.

So the answer? No. The "Boehner promise of jobs, jobs, jobs" US House of Representatives, has already reversed the flow of Mexican migration, by not creating jobs for Americans. The flow reversed starting in 2008 with the advent of this Bush Great Recession. (As you recall December, 2008, with consecutive months featuring national losses of 750,000 jobs.)

"The report by the Pew Hispanic Center ... found that the number of Mexicans living in the U.S. fell from 12.9million in 2009 to 12million in 2011."

But, by all means, even though a million immigrants have left the country, please keep repeating the talking point falsehoods about people of color ruining your life.


Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2012 at 1:48 pm

> But, by all means, even though a million immigrants have left
> the country, please keep repeating the talking point falsehoods
> about people of color ruining your life.

Let's take a look at gangs in Los Angeles ..

Web Link

Gang membership in Los Angeles has continued to increase over the past five years even though there have been periodic crime decreases. One of the major factors contributing to increased gangs, gang membership and violence has been the lucrative narcotics trade, with rival gangs vying for the greatest market share.

Gangs are not a new phenomenon. During the last three years, there were over 16,398 verified violent gang crimes in the City of Los Angeles. These include 491 homicides, nearly 7,047 felony assaults, approximately 5,518 robberies and just under 98 rapes

The County and City of Los Angeles are the "gang capital" of the nation. There are more than 450 active gangs in the City of Los Angeles. Many of these gangs have been in existence for over 50 years. These gangs have a combined membership of over 45,000 individuals.
----

There are areas of that metroplex that are more under gang control than police control. Ruining people's lives--You Bet!

As to the fact that it is alleged that 1M people have left the US for "wherever".. wonder how Washington can prove that? And what makes you think that they won't be back in the future?


Posted by outrageous practices, a resident of Nixon School
on Jun 2, 2012 at 2:08 pm

wondering: nice deflection from your statement "So .. what do you propose that the American taxpayer do to create more jobs in Mexico, so that these youth do not come across the border and commit the crimes that they do?"

Facts show that while jobs have decreased in the US due to the Great Recession that started in 2008, immigration has reversed. So you go off on a 250 word tangent on gangs.

As I said - nice deflection.

A tangent that uses half a dozen statistics - you know, numbers. Followed with your suspicion of, oh, wait for it, yup: numbers!

"wonder how Washington can prove that? "

It's called a census.

But don't trust them, heavens no, they use NUMBERS! As you did with your rant on gangs.

By the way, the "wherever" you refer to, it's called Mexico.


Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2012 at 2:14 pm

> nice deflection from your statement "So .. what do you propose that
> the American taxpayer do to create more jobs in Mexico, so that
> these youth do not come across the border and commit the crimes
> that they do?"

Actually, it was a question challenging the poster who claimed "we should do more ..". Still waiting for an answer to this more Utopian point-of-view than realistic approach to dealing with crime in our community and state.


Posted by outrageous practices, a resident of Nixon School
on Jun 2, 2012 at 3:02 pm

"so that these youth do not come across the border and commit the crimes that they do?"

Yet you refuse to acknowledge the false premise in your statement - migration has reversed with 1 million Mexicans returning to Mexico.

Even at that, your whole style is to deflect from the topic - persons of color face harsher burdens through the judicial system.

Open up a 'gang' thread.


Posted by rand reas, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 2, 2012 at 4:47 pm

its all about race. if you look a certain way you are presumed guilty of everything police lie about. because of this, we are going to contact the proper people to tell them about police racism. it will be known to those who need to know.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2012 at 4:58 pm

In fact it is not about race-

-it is about gangs and drugs

The Irish, Jews, Italians etc where involved in gang violence in NY and NV

The new gangs are Black and Mexican selling drugs

Portugal has solved its drug/gang problem by treating it as a public health issue.

Major dealers in meth, heroin, cocaine should face the death penalty.

Actually with drones and sensing techology we can kill the major dealers at the source before it comes across the border.


Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2012 at 6:07 pm

> persons of color face harsher burdens through the judicial system.

If you are not an expert in the area of sentencing in the US criminal justice system, then perhaps you might preface such statements as: "In my opinion". Otherwise, you need to cite some sources (outside this badly designed Stanford study).

> Yet you refuse to acknowledge the false premise in your statement –
> migration has reversed with 1 million Mexicans returning to Mexico.

That's the claim of the Obama Administration—but they have been lying since Day One. Since no one really knows who the illegals are, it's a little difficult to know how many have actually left the US, if in fact they have. Perhaps the IRS has noticed that some number of taxpayer IDs believed to have been used by illegals have not been used lately. But a taxpayer ID does not directly map to x illegals.

And again, even if 1M out of the 11M-20M believed to be in the country did leave—that doesn't take a lot of people out of the pool of illegals involved in crime in the US.

Because Blacks are under-represented in California, compared to the national average, and "Hispanics"/illegals are overrepresented—this Stanford study's results might be a little skewed for California.

The topic line for this article talks about race and prejudice when it comes to sentencing. So, how many juries are involving in sentencing? Isn't that the role of the Judge? Don't most criminal trials end when the guilt/non-guilt of the accused is established, and a second phase of the trial continues without a jury? Are there exceptions?

We have mandatory sentencing in many states, to get around this perceived bias/prejudice issue. How is that working out?

All-in-all, this study doesn't seem to prove much.


Posted by Pen Trail, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Incredible thread - partially hijacked to some random Gang discussion, with Sharon completely missing the topic of the thread and saying it's completely about gangs.

A couple things:

1. Pot, meet kettle - "you might preface such statements as: "In my opinion". Otherwise, you need to cite some sources" then a mere couple sentences along you scream "That's the claim of the Obama Administration—but they have been lying since Day One. "

Wow. Well done. Chastise one moment for not providing a link on an easy google search and then a completely rhetorical statement about Obama.

In a thread on race and sentencing.

To repeat: wow.

Okay, I looked it up - "The report by the Pew Hispanic Center ... found that the number of Mexicans living in the U.S. fell from 12.9million in 2009 to 12million in 2011." Easy to google, and it's NOT from the White House. He told you in the link it was from Pew. Sheesh!

Here's the top result for the quote Web Link

The quote was accurate.

2. "And again, even if 1M out of the 11M-20M believed to be in the country did leave—that doesn't take a lot of people out of the pool of illegals involved in crime in the US. "

Huh? The study, which you obviously don't care for, is NOT ABOUT GANGS. It's a hypothetical INDIVIDUAL.




Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2012 at 12:32 am

This is not rocket science.
When we had old bumped car we were stopped several times by police for - nothing. Police just checked nothing (some lame excuse) and let go.
Buying a new Toyota seemed to have cause police to loose interest.

Imagine a child growing watching father being stopped that way, knowing it is the car. Add prejudice in school. I heard numerous times that whenever something was missing in class all were looking at African American, especially when very few (situation in Palo alto) - some of the ingredients for a a recipe for anger, a self fulfilling prophecy.


Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 3, 2012 at 9:35 am

Village Fool, I have no doubt that abuses and misconceptions exist as you state in police operation as well within the school system. With that acknowledged, whatever level that might be, I believe it absolutely pales in comparison to the self-destruction that exists within our minority communities.

Many challenges and frustrations remain. On this I have no doubt. Positive changes come slow, but our culture has most definitely grown and changed. I hold the belief that despite these challenges, this country offers many more opportunities than obstacles, for those that choose to pursue them. As a people we must look ahead. It is counter productive to constantly blame one's plight on the police, or the school system, or our government. If we analyze the negative aspects of someone's life, for the most part they got to where they were by making poor choices in life. It wasn't anyone's responsibility other than their own. Ultimately people taking responsibility for their lives and being accountable is the recipe for long term changes, and with that the perception of others.

Before we concern ourselves with our perception of unfairness, we need to look within. There must be a greater respect and honor for our relationships and family. There must be a greater respect for other people and their property. We must reject the abuse of alcohol and illicit drugs and stop diluting our minds. We must reject a criminal lifestyle based on violence, thug culture, gangs, and crime. We concern ourselves with the effect that others have on us, meanwhile statistics clearly show that a young African-American male is much more likely to be killed by another African-Amercian. Where is our public outrage over this sad and troubling statistic. These are all issues that are self-created and must be addressed from within.

We must never stop fighting and demanding fairness and justice. That is a struggle where we have to remain ever vigilant. However, it should no longer be used as a sweeping form of rationalization for where minorities are or can be in the future of our country. Village Fool, you asked us to consider the child you watched his father being stopped by the police that way and released. Quite frankly, I believe we need to spend more time considering the child whose father was killed in a drive-by shooting, or the one he/she will never know because they're in prison. Reminds me of a biblical passage. "Why worry about a speck in the eye of another when you have a board in your own."


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 3, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

It should be illegal to maintain ANY race based statistics. If it were not for the racial identification, where would there be a problem?
What if separate statistics were kept for the Irish, Italians or French? How about Rednecks?
Back in the 60s it WAS illegal to maintain racial statistics, until it was determined that the only way to get special treatment for government goodies was to become a special subset of humanity. The Blacks sought the separate listing, so let them enjoy ALL the benefits thereof.


Posted by pagey, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jun 3, 2012 at 3:02 pm

once again, the problem is the technological sphere. it allegedly came to an end last decade. we are witnessing the deconstruction of the old paradigm.


Posted by village fool , a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Walter E. Wallis:
Back in the 60s, Ron Jones, a teacher in Cubberley High, PAUSD, was not tunered since he demonstrated to his students how easy it was to conform, behave in a way no one could imagine possible in Palo alto, CA, late 60s.
Ron Jones mentioned that @that time - EPA students were not "invited" to stay for after school activities @Cubberlely, sports etc.
Web Link


Phil:
Unfortunately, I have witnessed quite a few situations were harsh consequences were not results of bad choices. These severe consequences were "accidents waiting to happen" - sometimes waiting for quite a few years. "Minor", subtle, occurrences accumulating.
May I suggest to try to imagine, for example, a hypothetical situation: What would be consequences faced by Minorities - African American/Hispanic/Tongan, from EPA, studying in Palo Alto High if they were the ones caught damaging Gunn new track throwing eggs, part of a "group activity tradition"?
Would anyone argue that consequences were too harsh?


Posted by Gene, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 3, 2012 at 8:06 pm

>Back in the 60s, Ron Jones, a teacher in Cubberley High, PAUSD, was not tunered since he demonstrated to his students how easy it was to conform, behave in a way no one could imagine possible in Palo alto, CA, late 60s.

I have often wondered about that one. It always sounded too pat for me. Storytelling? Urban Myth? Propaganda? Assuming that were dozens of kids caught up in this thing, how many have confirmed the story? I would not trust Ron Jones, because he has made a name off of it. Not the movie makers, either. I would like to hear from kids who were actually in his world history class, including the ones that did not buy into Jone's game/story. I know a couple of people who were at Cubberly at the time, and they told me that they never believed it, because they never saw any kids givng the 'wave' or talking about it; however they were not in the class.


Posted by Toady, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 4, 2012 at 8:23 am

Correlation or causation?


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 4, 2012 at 11:31 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Individual actions extrapolated to a class?


Posted by hh, a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2012 at 10:00 pm

@Village fool.....

Either you are lying or Ron Jones was a liar. At best you stretch the truth. I was there at that time and there were kids from east palo alto in school and on the sports teams.

In fact, many went around campus in groups picking fights with white kids for no reason, and w/o consequence.


Posted by Duh, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 5, 2012 at 4:01 pm

How is this news?


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