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Statistics on the Race of Persons Convicted of Federal Crimes in 2007:
In 2007, about 72,000 persons were convicted of federal crimes. Here's the breakdown of the defendants by race in the 95% or so of those cases in which the defendant's race was recorded:
White -- 28.8%
Black -- 24.4%
Hispanic -- 43%
Other -- 4.1%
  (Source: 2007 Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics, page 14.)

  The same source includes a breakdown of defendants by race for different types of crimes that sheds light on these numbers. About a third of the defendants were convicted of drug cases, almost all for trafficking, and the racial breakdown of the defendants in drug trafficking cases roughly resembled that of the overall group:
White -- 24.2%
Black -- 28.5%
Hispanic -- 43.8%
Other -- 3.5%
  In contrast, other types of crimes had a racial breakdown quite different than the whole. For example, the racial breakdown of defendants in fraud cases, about 10% of the group, was much whiter and much less hispanic than the rest:
White -- 47%
Black -- 31.5%
Hispanic -- 16.5%
Other -- 5.0%
  Firearms cases, about 12% of the whole, were much more heavily black:
White -- 32.5%
Black -- 48.3%
Hispanic -- 16.3%
Other -- 2.9%
  The fact that the largest group on the whole was hispanic largely resulted from immigration offenses, which constituted about 20% of the overall set. Defendants in immigration cases in 2007 were overwhelmingly hispanic:
White -- 7.1%
Black -- 2.7%
Hispanic -- 89.1%
Other -- 1.2%
  What was the 'whitest' offense category with at least 1,000 prosecutions in 2007? That would be pornography/prostitution, the primary offense of about 1,400 defendants. Altogether, about 84% of the defendants convicted of those offenses are white.
Brooks Lyman (mail):
These percentages are of the total number of convictions. The sad thing is, that when you take the numbers (not percentages) of convictions by race and compare them to the national demographics, it becomes apparent that for many types of crime, a much larger percentage of the minority groups commit those crimes. I'm not suggesting any answers to this problem, but it's obvious that there is a disconnect somewhere.
4.10.2008 4:16pm
Smokey:
Hispanic is now a race?? No. They are simply the population of Spanish speakers [Spain, Central & South America, Mexico, etc.] I've been to Mexico many times, and there are lots of blondes there; how does that fit into the 'race' meme? Chinese villages, too -- and the Chinese inhabitants all speak perfect Spanish. Are the Chinese a part of the Hispanic "race"?

Words matter. From the dictionary:

Hispanic, adjective: Of or relating to Spain or Spanish speaking countries, esp. those of Latin America. Of or relating to Spanish speaking people, or their culture.

* A Spanish speaking person living in the U.S., especially one of Latin American descent.


Race is not mentioned.
4.10.2008 4:16pm
BRM:
What are the breakdowns for all crimes except immigration offenses?
4.10.2008 4:18pm
Ben P (mail):

Hispanic is now a race??


I think you're making a mountain out of a molehill here.

It may be a broader definition than you wish to use, but nearly every form I've ever had to fill out that included a race category had a category for "Hispanic" in some sense of the word. It might be an ethicity, but it's a distinct cultural group within our society.

The US Census specifically defines Hispanic Or Latino as ""a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central
American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.""
4.10.2008 4:23pm
Just sayin':
it's true: we whites love porn.
4.10.2008 4:24pm
Crunchy Frog:
Smokey: Yes, we all know Hispanic is an ethnicity, not a race. But for the purpose of the discussion it is accurate enough - and since the vast majority of Spanish speakers in the US are Mestizos of Latin American descent, we can substitute that phrase for Hispanic if you are so inclined. The interests of clarity win out however.

Do you have any more nits you would like to pick for us?

p.s. If you can come up with a single Spanish speaker of Chinese ancestry in federal prison your argument might just have a little more merit.
4.10.2008 4:27pm
Gary McGath (www):
The invention of a Hispanic "race" is more than a molehill. The whole concept of race is highly suspect; at most, a "race" is a cluster of genetic characteristics, not a distinct category of people. The claim of a "Hispanic race" shows how meaningless the whole notion is.

I think a "Hispanic race" was first invented for purposes of affirmative action, and at the time people's surnames were used as a measure of race. Really. When people started changing their names in order to change their official genetics, bureaucrats got more sophisticated in their definitions, but the idea remains totally artificial. There's a "Hispanic race" simply because there's a pressure group that says there is one.
4.10.2008 4:33pm
Shelby (mail):
What's the basis for the prostitution portion of "pornography/prostitution"? There aren't that many Mann Act prosecutions -- is it for hooking on federal property?
4.10.2008 4:39pm
Cory J (mail):
<blockquote>
it's true: we whites love porn.
</blockquote>

That's <a rel="nofollow" href=http://www.stuffwhitepeoplelike.com>not official yet. </a>

[We whites love being told what to think!]
4.10.2008 4:40pm
Cory J (mail):
Sorry about that.
4.10.2008 4:40pm
Smokey:
Do you have any more nits you would like to pick for us?
Nope. I guess words don't matter.
4.10.2008 4:41pm
OrinKerr:
On the "hispanic os an ethnicity, not a race" question, I certainly thought of pointing out that I was just copying what the Sentencing Commission did; I didn't mean to take a position on it.
4.10.2008 4:45pm
ejo:
sounds like Wright should have been g-ding dope dealers and gunners, not whites and jews.
4.10.2008 4:48pm
John Greggo (mail):
Maybe I am going to start using black couriers, as they seem to commit fewer crimes than others, thus no reasonable suspicion.
4.10.2008 5:06pm
No One:
Shelby, I suspect that the "porn" takes up 95% of the porn/prostitution category, and that "child porn" is 95% of that part.
4.10.2008 5:07pm
GV:
Anyone care to speculate why child pornography is much, much more common among whites than among blacks and hispanics? I've always wondered about this.
4.10.2008 5:14pm
TomH (mail):
Not that I agree with this proposal wholeheartedly, and there are exceptions everywhere, but I understand that there is a sociological model for this (See GV at 4:14).

Perhaps it is an issue of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, beginning at the base with food and shelter, and topping out with philosophy, navel gazing and law review articles :)

Hispanics, at the bottom of the ladder seek resources for daily living and are convicted of removing themselves from poorer circumstances to a land where resources are more plentiful. Blacks, in the middle, seek earthly pleasures, beyond mere sustenance and seek drugs and the adrenaline rush of violence, and Whites, at the top, and with access to those more basic items at hand, can while away their time making and looking at pictures of children in appalling conditions.

Now that my pop-sociological analysis is over, flame away.
4.10.2008 5:26pm
Davide:
Orin is wrong.

Antitrust is the whitest crime: whites committed 90.9% of the figures. I know, not as sexy to call whites monopolists instead of sex fiends, but there you have it.
4.10.2008 5:27pm
Davide:
Oh, whoops. Orin excludes antitrust because there weren't enough prosecutions for him to include it. He limited his review to offenses with at least 1,000 convictions.
4.10.2008 5:28pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Don't forget the white monopoly on the porn industry.
4.10.2008 5:59pm
xx:
GV: Where are you getting your numbers?
4.10.2008 6:32pm
c.gray (mail):

Anyone care to speculate why child pornography is much, much more common among whites than among blacks and hispanics?


About 12 years ago, during a barbecue, I had a conversation with a forensic psychiatrist who had done a lot of research on serial killers and serial rapists. He claimed that there was, in general, a big difference in behavior between white offenders and everyone else. White people tended to be more "perverse", and engage in more idiosyncratic behavior.

The working hypothesis among his colleagues was that white people tended to be better educated, and come from more cosmopolitan backgrounds. Such people tend to be much better at rationalizing away sexual taboos that might otherwise operate to limit extreme behavior.

/shrug

OTOH, the Mexican-American MD we were drinking beer with suggested that white Americans, in his personal observation, were just more prone to "batshit craziness" than other people, especially when it came to sex. He blamed it on the Victorians, and claimed the English were even worse.
4.10.2008 6:36pm
Mike& (mail):
it becomes apparent that for many types of crime, a much larger percentage of the minority groups commit those crimes.

Let's say 10 people (5 whites and 5 blacks) are smoking crack on a corner. The cops arrest the five blacks but none of the whites.

We'd say, "Hey, based on arrest statistics, black people but not white people like crack!"

Would that be accurate?

Heck no.

So you can't say more minorities are committing crimes unless you know that the laws are equally enforced against black and white people.

I know from personal experience that if you are black or poor, the magnifying glass will definitely be on you to a much greater extent than if you are white and well-to-do. This is a fact white people just don't want to accept.
4.10.2008 6:38pm
xx:
Some random notes from scanning the other tables:
- Apparently, only young people take hostages.
- College graduates either don't burglarize, or don't get caught.
- Nearly 10% of immigration crimes are committed by U.S. citizens.
4.10.2008 6:41pm
Mike& (mail):
Re: Hispanics as a race. This is hilarious. I have more than a few Nicaraguan friends who would not appreciate being referred to as Mexicans.

But, hey, they are all brown, right? So let's lump them together!

Which, imho, says quite a bit about the Sentencing Commission.
4.10.2008 6:44pm
xx:
c.gray: I think you're actually remembering a Chris Rock bit.
4.10.2008 6:46pm
Mike& (mail):
College graduates either don't burglarize, or don't get caught.

Burglary is a "desperation" crime. People who burglarize are either poor or they need drug money. (These often go hand-in-hand.)

If you're a college grad, you're probably not poor.

And if you're a college-grad addict, you can usually afford your drugs. Also, most college grads come from families that live above the poverty line, so you can just lie to your parents for your drug money.

Many crimes are caused by poverty. Which is why many of us wonder why it makes sense spending $29,000 a year keeping poor people locked in boxes instead of using that money to help keep them out of prison?

We are, after all, going to spend that money one way or the other. Why not use it to keep people out of prison?
4.10.2008 6:48pm
What..?:
Mike&:

To result in the sorts of numbers we see in the crime statistics, the discrimination would have to be pervasive, severe, and immediately apparent to even the most casual observers of everyday society.

I'm not saying that discrimination doesn't occur, just that it can't possibly account for the entire statistical disparity.

It'd have to be discrimination on the level of, well, your hypothetical situation. Rest assured, if the cops arrested only the non-whites in your crack-smoking party, or any other criminal activity, we'd hear about, be appropriately outraged, and try to put an end to such horrible police racism.

What would finally put this issue to rest for you? How about we do a statistical study of all convenience store robberies in which we have video surveilance of the perpetrators, and break them down by apparent race? I am quite willing to bet that the perpetrators would be disproportionately non-white. If this is borne out, will you claim that convenience stores are less likely to report white robbers to the cops, or less likely to provide the video in these cases?

Please keep in mind, too, that nobody is advocating that the correlation present here or in other crime statistics is because of causation. (Well, except for you). I don't think people commit more crime because they're black or hispanic or whatever. I think they commit more crime because of a systemic and longstanding socioeconomic divide in this country due to immigration by the poor as well as failed social programs. This means minorities are more likely to be poor, and more likely to commit crime.
4.10.2008 6:57pm
BruceM (mail):
Hispanic is unusually high for federal crimes because there are SO MANY "unlawful re-entry" prosecutions. The vast majority of these deal with Mexicans coming back in to the US.
4.10.2008 7:04pm
Mike& (mail):
To result in the sorts of numbers we see in the crime statistics, the discrimination would have to be pervasive, severe, and immediately apparent to even the most casual observers of everyday society.

Because "casual observers" observe crime and arrests? How can you know this?

Most "casual observers" can't find Iraq on a map, so I have no idea why you give "casual observers" so much credit.

In the real world, you're more likely to be followed by police if you're in a car with blacks than if you're in a car with whites. This is just a fact.

Please do some anecdotal research. Ask around. You'll be surprised (though you shouldn't be) that most blacks have experienced this. I am not making controversial statements to those who have studied the issue.

How is this practice defended? "Well, blacks commit more crimes. So racial profiling makes more sense." What an out!

Of course, it could be that blacks get caught for committing more crimes due to the increased scrutiny. Yet few want to examine that argument. Instead, we (well, you) just ignore the problem of disparate enforcement.

Rest assured, if the cops arrested only the non-whites in your crack-smoking party, or any other criminal activity, we'd hear about, be appropriately outraged, and try to put an end to such horrible police racism.

I take it you've never heard of the powder-v-crack cocaine disparity. White people served much less time for possessing the same drug as black people. Yet there was little outrage over this issue - and no outrage at all among "casual observers."

Your entire post assumes that overt racism is, for the most part, dead. The reality is something quite different.
4.10.2008 7:40pm
ichthyophagous (mail):
In a recent year, 20 blacks per 100,000 were homicide victims, a rate 6 times higher than for whites, and 25 blacks per 100,000 were homicide perpetrators, 7 times higher than for whites. If this is mostly due to differences in police law enforcement, there must be an awful lot of dead bodies going unaccounted for. Perhaps a lot of blacks are being killed by whites and the whites are somehow getting blacks to take the rap for it. But this sounds rather unlikely, wouldn't you say?

See www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/race.htm.
4.10.2008 8:19pm
holdfast:
Mike&thinks that poverty causes crimne - but what about the reverse? A working class person who becomes addicted to drugs is likely to slide right out of the working class and and into poverty and crime. And once he has a criminal record, climbing out of poverty is all the harder. It is perhaps unfair, but nevertheless true, that a rich person can afford to stick powder up his nose and a working class person cannot (at least not without committing crimes to feed the habbit). I'm not a big fan of the "war of drugs" for most of the usual reasons, but "hard reduction" doesn't seem to be the answer either - it just creates state-sanctioned zombies.
4.10.2008 8:23pm
What..?:
People who can't find Iraq on a map are not my "casual observers of everyday society," they're the average ignorants of everyday society.

And, no, you're not saying anything I haven't heard before. Nobody's ignoring the problem of disparate enforcement. Read my original post again. It exists, but it can't possible account for the entirety of the statistical disparity.

You're seeing this issue way, way too black and white (no pun intended).

My position is that minorities commit more crime, and that they get caught more often due to increased scrutiny. I think we can all agree that either of these factors will cause minority offenders to be overrepresented in crime statistics as compares to their representation in the population as a whole, yes?

If minorities committed crime at a higher rate, we'd expect them to be overrepresented in the crime statistics, right?

And if minorities were scrutinized more closely by the police, we'd expect them to be overrepresented in the crime statistics, right?

You're arguing that despite the existence of two extremely plausible factors, that the statistical disparity is due entirely to just one of those factors, and that the other one is simply not present. At the same time, you're criticizing "those" who claim that disparate enforcement does not happen, and that the statistical disparity is driven solely by a higher rate of crime among minorities.

You and "those" you rail against are simply advancing opposite sides of the same ridiculous argument. I'm putting "those" in quotes, by the way, because I've honestly never met somebody who has honestly claimed that disparate enforcement doesn't happen. And I've met plenty of racists. They acknowledge the disparate enforcement and justify it.

Instead of zeroing in on my "casual observers" language, why not answer the question regarding the hypothetical study I posed to you? If we did a study of every convenience store robbery where video evidence were available, would or would not minorities be overrepresented among the perpetrators? My answer was yes. What's yours?

Do you also deny a link between poverty and crime rate? Do you also deny a link between poverty and race in America? (Hint: Your answer has to be yes to either one or both of these questions to avoid contradicting yourself). Please explain your "yes" answer.
4.10.2008 8:28pm
lostmycookies (mail):
What..? is on fire! Where's my marshmellows?
4.10.2008 8:35pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
For a mathematical analysis of criminality with reference to incarceration rates and race see, Why Most Serial Killers are White Men.

Some important results from this analysis:
1. We infer from this that criminality distributions for white, black and Hispanic men have persisted unchanged for more than a quarter century.

2. Nothing suggesting targeting of black people matches the facts. When general levels of incarceration increase, black and white incarceration rates follow a path precisely accounted for by group criminality distributions.
The National Crime Victimization Survey also demonstrates that blacks and hispanics have greater crime rates than whites. These statistics are based on a large sample and have nothing to do with arrests or incarceration. They are what the victims report.

On the link between poverty and crime. Yes there is correlation. If correlation is causality then crime could cause poverty. But IQ is also correlated with crime. The higher the IQ the less the crime rate. IQ is also correlated with socio-economic status. See Jensen The g Factor. Thus IQ could induce the observed correlation between cime and poverty.
4.10.2008 9:01pm
elim:
ichthy-I think you are right. I walked past 16 white dead bodies in the past week. I am sure they were filed as "accidental" to maintain that disparity. as to serial killers, what numbers are reliable when 1/3 to 1/2 of homicides are unsolved in many major cities, mostly of minorities.
4.10.2008 10:28pm
Smokey:
GV:
Anyone care to speculate why child pornography is much, much more common among whites than among blacks and hispanics?
I'll play. Ever hear about Michael "It's bedtime when the big hand touches the little hand" Jackson? And...

Q: Do you know why Michael Jackson loves twenty six year olds?

A: Because... there are twenty of them.


Bet MJ isn't the only one.
4.10.2008 10:46pm
penn2L:
I think Mike&and What? both make good points. I think when it comes to drug offenses, the difference in enforcement is a larger factor than other crimes. Studies have shown that the percentage of drug users in a population is the same across racial and ethnic groups. Yet, the incarceration rate reflects disparities. If police focused on college campuses or Hollywood parties--where you might find many whites smoking pot or snorting coke--as much as they do to the "corners" of the inner city, the figures might converge. I think most can concede that point.

OTOH, I don't see any problem with recognizing that for certain crimes, minorities commit them at higher rates. Recognizing that does not make one a racist. It is simply an acknowledgment of past circumstances which have led to the socio-economic situation for some minorities which rewards illegal activity over education. (See Bill Cosby's speeches for another take on this mentality of ignoring the fact that some change from within is needed)

Just my .02
4.10.2008 11:01pm
Dave D. (mail):
...Mike&either doesn't understand the federal justice system, or he's blinded by his keen sense of victimhood. He would have us believe that the U.S. Attorneys who actually charge and prosecute the crimes are prejudiced against Black men in one set of crimes, Hispanics in another and finally, Whites when it comes to pornography or anti-trust. And these U.S. Atty's do this for what purpose ? How they must struggle to rig the evidence in order to maintain the different prosocutorial averages! Hogwash.
..As do most bigots, Mike&quotes a "real world" he imagines and certifies his own fantasy with " This is just a fact ". I can only wonder how many traffic stops Mike&has made and what fantasies lead to them. But the topper is his idea that anecdotal ruminations constitute evidence. Evidence good enough for him to claim racial prejudice as a basis of federal prosecution on a vast scale, nationwide, which accounts for the disproportionate convictions of suspects based not on (real) evidence, but on their race. How did that get by us ? Lucky it didn't get by Mike&.
4.10.2008 11:16pm
What..?:
Ah, that's an excellent point. Clearly the gov't has to be disparately enforcing these porn and prostitution charges against white folks. I don't know how I overlooked such a brilliant refutation. Thank you.
4.11.2008 4:40am
Mike& (mail):
If police focused on college campuses or Hollywood parties--where you might find many whites smoking pot or snorting coke--as much as they do to the "corners" of the inner city, the figures might converge.


Great point. If you want to arrest coke users, go to the nearest sales conference. Yet when do we see police staking out these events or raiding hotel rooms?

But the topper is his idea that anecdotal ruminations constitute evidence.

Anecdotes aren't evidence? Since when? Granted, it's one thing to say anecdotes are weak evidence because anecdotes are often colored by our our biases. But not evidence at all? That's a pretty controversial claim you just made.

I don't know how I overlooked such a brilliant refutation.

What does that refute? Narcotics squads operate differently and independently from "vice" squads. They even have different cultures.

What your "refutation" (and, admittedly, my initial comment) lacks is nuance. I think penn2L mostly nailed it and so I don't have anything else to add.
4.11.2008 5:21am
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Orin --

How does federal jurisdiction over crimes that occur on Indian Reservations affect these numbers? It was my understanding that this jurisdiction skewed the data as many crimes on reservations would be prosecuted federally, whereas the same crimes committed elsewhere would be tried in state courts. If so, this would seem to inflate the percentage of Native Americans in these figures (even if they are lumped into the "other" category). Is my understanding correct?

JHA
4.11.2008 8:18am
ichthyophagous (mail):
elim:

In the DOJ website I cited, the curves for victimization rates and offending rates follow each other closely. The implication is clear that law enforcement does not classify a dead body as a case of homicide unless they actually have identified a perpetrator. This interpretation is reinforced by the fact that the web page breaks out homicides by victim/offender relationship and also by circumstances. So a dead body that is simply found is not part of the statistics. The argument that such bodies are the result of homicides of blacks by whites is unbelievable. It sounds like something for Jeremiah Wright.

What kind of a job involves walking past 16 dead bodies in a week? Working for a mortuary?
4.11.2008 8:41am
pete (mail) (www):
GV:

Anyone care to speculate why child pornography is much, much more common among whites than among blacks and hispanics?


What perentage of these cases concern child pornography obtained via computers? What is the percentage of whites vs. blacks and hispanics that have internet access? It may be the case that it is easier for whites as a group to access the stuff than for other races. With computer crimes it is also an interesting example where the police might not know the race of the person they are investigating at first.
4.11.2008 12:14pm
whit:
not to beat a dead horse, but hispanic is not a race. it's independent OF race.

one can be black hispanic, asian hispanic, or white hispanic.

it's a cultural designation. in my agencies documentation, it is a SEPERATE qualifier from race (Which is what the DOJ standards are).

the reason this is important is that there are a large %age of hispanic convictions that are ALSO white convictions. does the data address this?
4.11.2008 2:18pm
whit:
"both make good points. I think when it comes to drug offenses, the difference in enforcement is a larger factor than other crimes. Studies have shown that the percentage of drug users in a population is the same across racial and ethnic groups. Yet, the incarceration rate reflects disparities. If police focused on college campuses or Hollywood parties--where you might find many whites smoking pot or snorting coke--as much as they do to the "corners" of the inner city, the figures might converge. I think most can concede that point"

yes. also note that drug use is significantly differentiated by both class and race.

for example. i have been in dozens of meth labs and involved in scores of meth investigations. i have never seen a black person in a meth lab. never. out of probably well over 200 people.

crack is disproportionately (in the areas i have worked) a black drug, and powder cocaine a white drug. in hawaii, where there were very few black people, crack never caught on. i almost NEVER saw crack, but saw metric #$#$(#(loads of meth, cocaine, heroin, etc.

richer kids (of any race) tend to prefer pharmaceuticals (oxycontin, codeine, etc.) and drugs like XTC - that LOOK like pharmaceutically manufactured pills, plus have the pez candy look. they don't do crack because it's a "low class" drug. ditto generally speaking for anything that involves using a needle.

marijuana otoh, seems to cross most age, class, and racial lines.

depending on what the "problem drug du jour" that politicians want their local cop-o-crat admin's to focus on, that's gonna skew the stats. cops aren't being racist for focusing on meth, but they are going to dispropotionately arrest white people for those crimes. otoh, if they focus on crack, it's gonna be black people.

and yes, when it comes to street trade and use, that's naturally going to disproportionately affect people who live/hang/work the street vs. the trade in indoor areas, and areas where police have less access, not to mention less constitutional authority to surveil, observe, etc.
4.11.2008 2:33pm
Dave D. (mail):
..Penn2L, Studies have NOT shown that "the percentage of (illicit) drug users in a population is the same across racial and ethnic groups ". Far from it. The U.S. Dept. of Health 'National household survey on drug use'shows variation within races and ethnicity as much as a factor of 9. Where did you get your information ?
4.11.2008 4:14pm
LarryA (mail) (www):
For comparison:
Population: 281,421,906....Convictions: 7,200....0.00003%

This is a very small minority. 7/280,000

Category....U.S.....Convictions
White......62.6.....28.8%
Black......12.3.....24.4%
Hispanic...12.5.....43%
Other......13.9......4.1%
4.11.2008 5:48pm
markm (mail):
Smokey: But was Michael Jackson a pervert back when he was black?
4.11.2008 10:02pm