Can we just make it illegal to arrest blacks already and get it over with? [The race factor: Black arrest rate seven times higher than whites, Gazettextra.com, 2-10-19]:
It was no surprise for local members of the criminal justice system to learn in January that black adults in Rock County are arrested at a rate seven times higher than white adults.
They had asked for the data as they considered what to do about the problem.
They are local law enforcement, prosecutors, attorneys and others members of the county’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.
They posed their question to the county’s new data cruncher, sociologist Kendra Schiffman.
Schiffman analyzed county law enforcement agencies’ numbers. She found that in 2016, African Americans comprised 5 percent of the adult population but accounted for more than 27.5 percent of adult arrests.
The numbers were similar in 2017.
Now, some council members are pointing to the racial disparity and calling for action.
Others say they first need more study.
“This is very preliminary data, and I think we have be careful with statistics not to jump to conclusions,” said the county’s new sheriff, Troy Knudson.
“There’s this whole belief that prison population and arrest rates have to mirror population, and if not, somebody is racist,” said Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore. “The issue is much more complex than that.”
But council members Marc Perry, who trains police and others in understanding racial bias, and Lonnie Brigham Jr., a member of the Janesville police African American Liaison Advisory Committee, said officials know enough to start working on solutions.
Council members asked for data instead of anecdotes, and now they have it, Brigham said, adding: “That being said, what is going to be done about it?”
At the end of the council’s Jan. 17, meeting, Perry pointed to studies showing Wisconsin among the worst in racial disparities in the nation.
He said local data tells a similar story.
“We have to actually own that it exists and start having conversations about solutions,” Perry said.
Moore and Knudson seemed receptive to talking about solutions, at least at some point.
“We need to explore what we are seeing here in Rock County, and if there are some things we can change, we should do so,” Moore said.
But the law enforcement leaders urged caution about quick judgments.
Knudson noted Schiffman looked at only 2016 and 2017 data.
Numbers from a longer period would be more telling “to really understand the problem and the issue,” Knudson said.
Knudson said he’d also like to see scrutiny of the details of some individual arrests and of those arrested, “and then hopefully from those investigations, it will point to further aspects that will need to be studied.”
Rock County in Wisconsin is home to 160,000 people. It’s 91 percent white and 4.6 percent black. How dare police in this 91 percent white county arrest blacks at a rate commensurate with how often they commit crimes!
We have to “own that it exists and start having conservations about solutions” by simply exempting black individuals in Rock County from the consequences of their illegal actions. Set the precedent by enacting a pilot program of Universal Black Exemption from Criminality (UBEC) in Rock County, ensuring police there no longer arrest blacks for any crime, thus ensuring the racial disparity disappears for good.