Critical Review of Chapter Five In Chapter 5, “Race, Crime and the Administration of Justice: A Summary of the Available Facts,” Christopher Stone summarizes current statistics about the arrest rates, charges, and criminal incarcerations of people of various ethnicities. He reviewed statistics concerning white, black, Hispanic, Native American and Asian American individuals and came up with the following conclusions: law enforcement officers are biased against blacks and Hispanic offenders the most, tend to downplay intra-racial crime, and are not as ethnically diverse as the population would indicate.
He also concluded that the justice system incarcerated blacks the most, sentenced blacks to death the most, and also tended to downplay intra- racial crime. Basically, Stone proves the point that statisticians have argued for years, that being that anyone can make statistics say anything. Basically Stone cites statistics that everyone has seen before and few dispute. The problem comes in the convergence of statistics into fact, as the subtitle of this chapter suggests. The first issue comes on the second page when he gives his three caveats to the premise that high victimization rates also have high offending rates.
First he notes that most crime is committed by whites. Second he notes that the ever prevalence rate is equal across race, and third he offers that community conditions are the main reasons that some groups have more instances of crime. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the incidence of victimization based on blacks and whites reporting from 1973 to 2003 shows that the difference between black and white victimization has steadily converged with blacks suffering only about two more incidents per 1,000 people than whites (Serious Violent Crime Rates Declined, 2005).
This alone shows that the rate of victimization does not vary much between blacks and whites, as previously thought, and that crime rates are decreasing for both blacks and whites. One of Stone’s statements in particular should bother statisticians of all races. He says on page 62 of the chapter of white’s committing the most crime, “Their offending rates may be low, but there are so many of them that they still manage to commit most of the crime. ” He is basically saying that among ten whites of whom three are criminals is statistically more significant than if there are two blacks and both of them are criminals.
Without converting this to a percentage, the statistics he presents are misleading and self-serving. Next, Stone lauds the use of the “ever prevalence rate” brings all races equal among young adults. This ever prevalence rate only asks individuals if they have committed a certain crime ONCE by a certain age. It makes no statement about recidivism nor circumstances. A young person who has tried shoplifting once and never again is criminally less worrisome than a young person who steals regularly.
On a more serious level, a young person who kills once via vehicular homicide is less worrisome than a person who has killed multiple times. Another problem here is the disregard for any type of risk factor. In discussing ever prevalence rates, the Report of the Surgeon General indicates, “The bulk of the research that has been done on risk factors identifies and measures their predictive value separately, without taking into account the influence of other risk factors. More important than any individual factor, however, is the accumulation of risk factors” (Chapter 4, 2001).
Using the ever prevalence rate is extremely limiting in its scope of information, therefore allowing for wide avenues of interpretation. Finally, Stone admits his own flaw with the third caveat. He admits that “researchers cannot find white communities to compare to the most disadvantaged urban communities” (62). Without a basis of comparison, the facts exist in a vacuum and therefore cannot be used to compare crime rates. Using statistics to prove bias among police officers is a dangerous venture.
First, Stone never gives any racial identification to the police officers he cites in his chapter. Are we to assume all police officers who searched the black men’s cars were white? What if any of them were female? These numbers are necessary to make a valid determination. Beyond this, statistics can be used to prove virtually any outcome. For example, the Bureau of Justice Statistics issued a study that presented a study on hate crimes. They determined that of the 210,000 hate crimes, the majority are perpetrated by blacks. The study reveals, “While race is, by far, the No.
1 factor cited as the reason for hate crimes, blacks are slightly less likely to be victims and far more likely to be perpetrators, the statistics show” (Farrah, 2006). What does this mean? It is impossible to tell. Studies of race and prejudice in the police and justice systems are important, but mere statistics to net tell the story. Interpretation of these statistics, the related factors, and realization of biased opinions on the parts of the respondents must all be analyzed. Stone does not do that in his chapter; thus the statistics he gathers are far from facts!
References Chapter 4: Risk Factors for Youth Violence. (2001). Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General. Fall, Available from : http://www. surgeongeneral. gov/library/youthviolence/ chapter4/sec1. html Farah, Joseph. (2006). Hate crime victims: Young, poor, white. ” WorldNetDaily. com. February Available from http://www. worldnetdaily. com/news/article. asp? ARTICLE_ID=48898 Serious violent crime rates declined in recent years for both blacks and whites. (2005). Bureau of Justice Statistics. Available from: http://www. ojp. usdoj. gov/bjs/ glance/race. htm