"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Something No One Says

To be horridly wonky for a second, why doesn't anyone point out in this controversy over Bill Bennett's statement that aborting every black baby in America would lower the crime rate that the pretense of an underlying logic -- which as been the matter of some debate -- lies not in crime rates but rather arrest and conviction rates.

Why? Because apparently it's taboo to point out the flawed nature of our criminal justice system and the way in which it can easily be perverted by racial prejudice, conscious or subconscious. It's not just false convictions. Black people are more likely to face arrest for things that otherwise might be let slide or demoted to a non-criminal infraction. Do the phrases "non-violent drug offender" and "mandatory minimum" mean anything to you?

Here's how it works. You criminalize an activity that an enormous number of people (including, on occastion, yours truly) partake in. Then your leave the choice as to what happens when this activity is discovered by the State in the hands of the Police (for choosing what evidence to collect and whether to even make an arrest at all) and the Prosecutors (for choosing what charges to bring and whether or no to invoke manditory minimums). Then you let the wheels of the criminal justice system grind away.

Now, there are many other factors underlying the higher arrest and conviction rates for african american citizens. Broadly speaking poorer education and health care leading to fewer career options ("life chances" as the sociologists say) are the most stastically significant. I'm just surprised that no one has pointed out the underlying flaw in the presumption that arrest and conviction rates accurately reflect demographic levels of criminality.

We'll someone did say it; Max Sawicky, who was one of the first politicla bloggers I read back in the day but who sort of fell off my radar. His site is looking awesome and he's a smart motherfucker.