spooky shit, a paradox & numbers

alec ramsdell a_ramsdell at hotmail.com
Fri Jul 17 08:30:20 PDT 1998

>Date: Thu, 16 Jul 1998 17:23:03 -0700
>From: michael perelman <michael at ecst.csuchico.edu>
>Despite all the scary high tech stuff, why does the law enforcement
>establishment do such a bad job in finding people. The Unibomber's
>turned him in; McVeigh got caught in a traffic stop. They can't find
>Instead, they merely get people to testify against others rather than
>what we might think of as police work.
>Am I off base here?
>Michael Perelman
>Economics Department
>California State University
>Chico, CA 95929
>Tel. 530-898-5321
>E-Mail michael at ecst.csuchico.edu

It seems the law enforcement establishment is as effective as their selective priorities demand. Here's some figures from _Search and Destroy: African-American Males in the Criminal Justice System_, by Jerome G. Miller, Cambirdge University Press, 1996.

"a 1991 study of the Los Angeles County Adult Detention Center revealed that *nearly one-third of all the young black men (ages 20-29) living in Los Angeles County had already been jailed at least once in that same year*." ...

"In 1992, the National Center on Institutions and ALternatives (NCIA) conducted a survey of young African-American males in Washington, D.C.'s justice system. It found that *on an average day in 1991, more than four in ten (42%) of all the 18-35-year-old African-American males who lived in the District of Columbia were in jail, in prison, on probation/parole, out on bond, or being sought on arrest warrants*. On the basis of this 'one-day' count, it was estimated that approximately 75% of all the 18-year-old African-American males in the city could look forward to being arrested and jailed at least once before reaching the age of 35. The lifetime risk probably hovered somewhere between 80% and 90%."

And three months later: "*on an average day in Baltimore, 56% of all its young African-American males were in prison, jail, on probation/parole, on bail, or being sought on arrest warrants."

. . .

"In fact, most of the frenetic law enforcement in the black community had nothing to do with violent crime. . . . Sustained and increasingly technologically sophisticated law-enforcement intrusion into the homes and lives of urban African-American families for mostly minor reasons has left the inner cities with a classic situation of social iatrogenesis--a 'treatment' that maims those it touches and exacerbates the very pathologies which lie at the root of crime."

So they do do a good job at "finding" certain people, of the non-celebrity sort.


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