Days Black People Not Re-Enslaved By Trump

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

About Those Prison Stats

So finally finished reading Rise Of The Robots and wanted to comment on one of the statistics found therein. It is one that is seen often particularly with the rise of the BLM movement:
The United States has a staggering 2.4 million people locked up in it's jails and prisons- a per capita incarceration rate more than three times that of any other country and more than ten times that of advanced nations like Denmark, Finland, and Japan. As of 2008, about 60 percent of these people were nonviolent offenders, and the annual per capita cost of housing them was about $26,000
There's a lot to unpack in this quotation but lets start with the 60%. Is the author implying that those who commit 'non-violent offenses" should not be incarcerated for their crimes? For example, should Bernie Madoff be free? His was as non-violent a crime as you can get. Does the author think that the person who breaks into his home while he is away and takes everything not be incarcerated? That's a non-violent crime too. What about the guy who breaks into his car and drives it away? That's a non-violent crime. I'm almost certain that Martin Ford has things like "a little bit of weed" on his mind with his "non-violent crime" comment. But most "little bit of weed" charges are civil offenses that do not involve jail time. If you have enough to "warrant" jail time you probably did not have "a little bit of weed."

That said, lets engage in a little math. If we were to take Martin Ford at his word that people who have not committed violent crimes ought not be imprisoned and removed them from the population you would still have 960,000 people in jail or prison in the US.

Ford told us that Denmark has an order of magnitude less people in prison (presumably for violent offenses, since they are so enlightened as to not jail non-violent offenders right?) That would mean that Denmark, Finland and Japan would have 240,000 people in jail.

So even if we only considered violent offenders the US would still have four times as many people in jail. So the US is still far more violent than any of the other "advanced nations" that Ford mentions. Why didn't he bother to tell us this?

Lets take it further. Even though African-Americans (you saw that coming didn't you?) make up a mere 13% of the US population, they make up a staggering 50% of those in jail or prison. Now lets look at this report about Denmark (you'll probably need to translate):

As you can see a very specific group of non-Danes are topping the charts of prisons in that country.

From Wikipedia:

Moreover, according to the figures from Danmarks Statistik, crime rate among refugees and their descendants is 73% higher than for the male population average, even when taking into account their socioeconomic background. A report from Teori- og Metodecentret from 2006 found that seven out of ten young people placed on the secured youth institutions in Denmark are immigrants (with 40 percent of them being refugees)[5]
And what percent of Denmark are non-native? 10.4% 330,000 of which are "non-western" in origins. So just like the US a small population of non-western people commit a hugely disproportionate amount of crimes that feeds the prison systems.

The hard truth here, particularly for the BLM folks is that the issue really isn't the criminal justice system as much as it is about the criminal proclivities of too many of our population. And discussions about the amount of people in jail or prison in the US that does not take into account who is doing what crimes in the first place is not a serious discussion.