Excerpted from NRO: The most poisonous untruth being peddled in the wake of the George Zimmerman acquittal is the claim that American justice is racist. The criminal law regularly announces that black Americans are “worth less than other Americans,” Cardozo Law School professor Ekow Yankah wrote on the New York Times opinion page this week. It wasn’t activists who “injected” race into the discussion, scoffed The American Prospect’s Jamelle Bouie on Monday, the “criminal-justice system” is “already” racial. An e-mail alert on Wednesday from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School proclaimed: “An ugly truth rears its head again: Racial disparities are alive and well in our criminal-justice system.”
The idea that the criminal-justice system discriminates against blacks — and that this bias explains blacks’ disproportionate presence in custody — is a staple of civil-rights activism and of the academic Left. Every effort to prove it empirically, however, has come up short. A 1994 Justice Department survey of felony cases from the country’s 75 largest urban areas discovered that blacks actually had a lower chance of prosecution following a felony than whites did and that they were less likely to be found guilty at trial. Alfred Blumstein has found that blacks are underrepresented in prison for homicide compared with their arrest rates. A meta-analysis of charging and sentencing studies showed that “large racial differences in criminal offending,” not racism, explained why more blacks were in prison proportionately than whites and for longer terms, according to criminologists Robert Sampson and Janet Lauritsen.
Criminal-law professors across the political spectrum agree that the Zimmerman verdict resulted from prosecutorial overkill, not juror bias. The trial was scrupulously fair and presented the prosecution with full opportunity to make its case. Keep reading