I’m late in getting to it, and don’t have time to do it justice at the moment, but Friday’s Star Tribune carried a column co-authored by former Hennepin County Attorney Tom Johnson on “racial disparities” in the criminal justice system. As always, the reader must read between the lines to deduce that these racial disparities result from racial disparities in crime rates. Johnson says that racial disparities in the criminal justice system are intolerable. What Johnson does not say is that to the extent these racial disparities reflect racial disparities in offending rates, as they do in Minnesota and elsewhere in the United States, the racial disparities in arrest, conviction and imprisonment rates are not only not intolerable, they are a good thing.
Johnson’s writing on the subject of racial disparities in the criminal justice system always implies without directly stating that the disparities are derivative of racial bias among police, prosecutors and judges. His writing has never directly acknowledged or addressed the racial disparities in crime rates that explain the racial disparities that can be observed in secondary phenomena such as arrest rates. Racial disparities in rates of violent crime are of course particularly huge, as are racial disparities in the crime victimization rates that follow from them.
Johnson focuses on everything but the underlying racial disparity in behavior that produces the outcomes he decries. Urging blacks to behave better is apparently not acceptable. Johnson’s modest proposal of the moment is to get the police to refrain from enforcing the laws against petty offenses. Genius! A perfect liberal proposal is one that aggravates the “problem” it purports to address and serves as the predicate for more of the same in the future. As anyone familiar with the basic criminological research in this area knows, Johnson’s modest proposal is of this variety. So long as you have a piece of the action, full-time employment is guaranteed indefinitely.
Rocket Man and I have noted in the past that the terminus of Johnson’s argument is justice by quota, an end point that can be seen clearly in this column. The racial disparities Johnson describes as “intolerable” are “intolerable” to him and his ilk because the extremely illiberal heart that beats in the chest of the contemporary liberal demands strict equality of results as measured among preferred victim groups. The racial disparities in crime victimization rates that should be of concern to Johnson and his ilk if they were serious not only remain unmentioned, they are taboo–until the time comes when they too can be used as a stick with which to beat law enforcement and raise more money from the liberal establishment that funds Johnson’s Council on Crime and Justice.
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