Black-White Differentials in Crime Rates

The Review of Black Political Economy, p. 133, 1998

20 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2013

See all articles by Samuel Myers

Samuel Myers

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs

Date Written: 1998

Abstract

Why are black crime rates higher than white crime rates? This question emerges from two well-known observations. First, there are observed differences by race in the measures typically used to indicate participation in crime. Specifically, conventional measures of crime are arrest rates and recidivism rates; repeatedly researchers have observed that Blacks are more likely to be arrested, and more likely to be rearrested after release from prison?

Second, Blacks are observed to be more frequently involved with the criminal justice system beyond the stage of arrest. Blacks are found more likely to be convicted and to receive prison sentences; the sentences they receive are longer and they are more likely to be charged with parole violations.

These observations have prompted many scholars to speculate either that Blacks really are more criminal than whites, or that there is something wrong with a criminal justice system that produces statistics suggesting something that simply is not so. Proponents of this latter view have argued that there is bias in official criminal statistics; that some acts by Blacks are labelled criminal while similar acts by whites are not considered criminal; that there is differential enforcement of the laws in black communities; or that Blacks are not really more criminal but, as a statistical artifact of more frequent involvement with the criminal justice system, they appear to be so.

Keywords: Black, Crime rates, whites, criminal, increase, differentials

Suggested Citation

Myers, Samuel, Black-White Differentials in Crime Rates (1998). The Review of Black Political Economy, p. 133, 1998. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2364480

Samuel Myers (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs ( email )

301 19th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

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