Thursday, May 04, 2023

Bias in the criminal justice system

A Wash. Post article, first published in 2020 and recently updated, argues:
There’s overwhelming evidence that the criminal justice system is racist. Here’s the proof. ...

Of particular concern to some on the right is the term “systemic racism,” often wrongly interpreted as an accusation that everyone in the system is racist. In fact, systemic racism means almost the opposite. It means that we have systems and institutions that produce racially disparate outcomes, regardless of the intentions of the people who work within them. ...

In any case, after more than a decade covering these issues, it’s pretty clear to me that the evidence of racial bias in our criminal justice system isn’t just convincing — it’s overwhelming. ...

I, of course, can’t vouch for the robustness or statistical integrity of all of these studies. I’m only summarizing them. But for the most part, I’ve tried to include either peer-reviewed studies or reviews of data that tend to speak for themselves and don’t require much statistical analysis.

The studies do show racially disparate outcomes, but that is not what is usually meant by bias.

If Blacks committ crimes at a higher rate, then outcomes will be racially disparate.

If you ignore the statistical analysis, then that is about all that can be said.

To get something statistically meaningful, you have to have some sort of control group, or some other way to control for obvious explanations. Eg, maybe cops stop Blacks more because Blacks commit more crimes. Of the studies I looked at, they did not control for anything. They just show some statistical disparaties, with finding any explanation.

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