Race, income and outcomes: how rich does a black criminal have to be to get treated like a white one?


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The graduation thread was close to closing, but fortunately we can keep the flame of color-blind white justice warriors burning here.


Yeah, about that phrase “Lies, damned lies, and statistics…”

Or, as more elaborately expounded “A good statistician should be able to use one set of data to ‘prove’ diametrically opposed conclusions.”

I’ve taken to calling out that sentiment as the anti-intellectual bullshit it is; the (very slightly) more mature version of sticking ones fingers in ones ears and chanting “I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you, la la la la, I can’t hear you.”

I find that the cynical, blanket dismissal of the whole science of statistics is mostly offered by people who don’t want to let facts get in the way of their own beliefs/opinions/conclusions.

I really like the author’s advice to be transparent with both data and methods, and remain open to the possibility of being incorrect.

What a radical notion; changing one’s beliefs/opinions/conclusions based on evidence? That’s crazy talk!

Edit: I’ve had an apostrophe!


I’m jumping out now then!


The article should probably highlight that the findings only explain 6% of the variance. This means other features not examined (the author suggests “the facts of the case” as a likely one) may matter far more than income.

But then one would have to re-emphasize that the result is real and pernicious and measurable and (probably) fixable.

But then you’d have to reiterate that it is small.

But then you’d have to…


That’s well above the 1% line.

As a back-of-the-envelope calculation:

$500K earners appear to be around 0.3% of the population, on average.

And how many of those are people of color?


*** reads headline ***

*** raises hand ***

“It’s a trick question. There is no level at which a black defendant will be treated like a white defendant of equal wealth”

*** reads post ***

Ah well, I guess it’s a good thing that I was wrong, but not really all that good, all things considered.


Sweet link, Cory. Thanks!

strictly speaking, we’re only talking about the Virginia Criminal Circuit Courts in 2006-2010

So it’s a pretty good bet that things were dramatically worse before then, and are slightly better now. Theodore Parker’s arc and all that.

So we can see that a defendant’s race is positively correlated with the sentence they receive, and their income is negatively correlated.

Well, I think it’s pretty easy to see which of those things can be changed without resort to genocide.

I’m working on a more detailed analysis of this data that seems to suggest that, at some points in the course of a case, one’s race plays no significant role in determining an outcome. What we see here is the aggregate effect of many interlocking parts. Reality is complex. Good people can find themselves unwitting cogs in the machinery of institutional racism, and a system doesn’t have to have racist intentions to behave in a racist way.

Every time you leave your computer on when you’re not using it, or buy a ceiling fan with a remote control, you contribute to structural racism. Totally not kidding, Wangari Maathai and all that. It’s all related and is very intricate; people want it to be just about one race’s struggle or another race’s privilege, but it’s really far more complex than any simplistic slogan can contain.


What if the computer is in sleep mode? hibernate? Unplugged?



I’ll just set this down right here, and be on on my way:


We all know where your biases lie.




by chronicling his experience, Rock has demonstrated that even the most famous and successful black men in America are more likely to get pulled to the side of the road than your average white guy.


I talked to my 6 year-old niece about Indians living here in America and she said, “Did they come from India?” Then I felt very old.


I laughed.

And yeah, I know I’m going to have my moment, too. Probably when referencing the game ‘cowboys and Indians’. And no matter how many times I tell those precocious little glue-eaters that I’m using the term in its then-contemporary context, I’m still going to get that eye-roll from them that makes me want to call an old friend over, crack open a cold can of Moxie, and commiserate in feeling hopelessly misunderstood even though we thought we’d passed through that phase several decades ago.


Indigenous people in the USA that I have known personally have generally preferred to be called “Indians” over other options. Your mileage may vary.


That’s actually somewhat comforting, because the phrase ‘Native American’ still leaves me grappling for a single word that I can never find because I’m almost entirely ignorant of the different confederations and collective identities that fall under that umbrella term.


Native American is an oxymoronic term that arises from white guilt. And it’s not just me who says so.

I’ve heard many preferences expressed for Indigenous, American Indian, or just plain Indian, however messed-up the last two are.


Echoes of “Are you Black or African-American?”