Friday, May 23, 2014

Eric Holder’s Three Examples Of ‘Pernicious’ Racism Don’t Hold Up, Part III By Larry Elder

By Larry Elder, May 23, 2014

Attorney General Eric Holder gave three examples of what he called America’s “pernicious racism.” The third example is Holder’s claim that black criminal defendants get longer sentences than white people get for committing similar crimes.

Holder said, “In our criminal justice system, systemic and unwarranted racial disparities remain disturbingly common.” Citing the U.S. Sentencing Commission, he said black men are sentenced to prison terms 20 percent longer then our whites who commit similar crimes. “Disparate outcomes,” Holder said, “are not only shameful and unacceptable, they impede our ability to see that justice is done. … A criminal justice system that treats groups of people differently -- and punishes them unequally -- has a much more negative impact than misguided words that we can reject out of hand.”

But Holder misrepresents commission’s conclusion.

True, they found that black criminal male defendants receive sentences 19.5 percent longer and than do white males who commit similar crimes. But, contrary to what the attorney general implied, the sentencing commission never used the term "racism" to explain the gap. The commission said, “[Judges] make sentencing decisions based on many legitimate [emphasis added] considerations that are not or cannot be measured."

Twenty years ago, in 1994, the Justice Department surveyed felony cases in the country’s 75 largest urban areas. Is there institutional racism in arresting, trying and sentencing black criminal defendants? The survey actually found lower felony prosecution rates for blacks than whites, and that blacks were less likely to be found guilty at trial. Once convicted, blacks were likely to receive longer sentences than whites, but this disparity was due to differences in the severity of the crime, their prior criminal records or other legal variables. Is today’s criminal justice system more racist now than twenty years ago? Holder apparently thinks so.

In the end, the attorney general’s speech was really about this one big question: How much racism remains in America?

Then-Sen. Obama once quantified it. He estimated the remaining amount of American racism -- at 10 percent.

In a 2007 speech, Obama praised what he called the Moses generation: “The previous generation, the Moses generation, pointed the way. They took us 90 percent of the way there. We [members of what Obama called the ‘Joshua generation’] still got that 10 percent in order to cross over to the other side.”

Ten percent.

For Holder, this remaining 10 percent is “pernicious” and “subtle” and “cut[s] deeper.” To him, this includes photo voter ID; disproportionate expulsion rates; and the false assertion that racism explains why blacks receive longer sentences than whites for similar crimes.

“Pernicious” racism?

None of the Holder’s assertions come close to supporting his argument of racism, let alone the "pernicious" racism. All can and are readily explained in non-racist ways. Are these the best examples of the 10 percent racism that remains? If so, then America -- as regards "race relations" -- has never looked better.

Related:  Eric Holder’s Three Examples Of ‘Pernicious’ Racism Don’t Hold Up, Part I By Larry Elder

Related:  Eric Holder’s Three Examples Of ‘Pernicious’ Racism Don’t Hold Up, Part II By Larry Elder

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  1. Another thing that contributes to blacks getting longer sentences has to do with the quality of the legal representation. Middle class white men will retain a decent attorney who works to get them a better sentence, while too often a black man from the inner city, who committed a similar crime, has to rely on a public defender who may not work as hard on behalf of the defendant.

  2. There are many more poor white men than poor black men. This is not a valid complaint for just minorities.


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