Calculating And Measuring Racial Disparity

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Research focusing on the calculation of racial disparities in police outcomes has generally examined police traffic stops and the follow up police activities, such as, citations, search and warnings. Review of these studies suggests that calculation methods of racial disparity vary from one study to another; however, majority of those studies employed population as a baseline measure or benchmarking variable (Withrow, 2002; Smith & Petrocelli, 2001; Withrow & Williams, 2015). Early studies using population as a baseline measure to compare disproportionate traffic stop counts found substantial racial disparities (Lamberth, 1996; Verniero & Zoubek, 1999). Studies later have begun to discuss that …show more content…

Numbers suggest that, for instance, while Blacks compose six percent of population in St. Clayton city, they represent 57% of overall police arrests. Similarly, the probability of Black arrest in Berkeley (CA) and Madison (Wis) cities is nine times higher than other racial groups compared to their corresponding population. In addition to this, Bureau of Justice statistics report that at the national level, Blacks are two times more likely to be arrested compared to Whites. Concurring with media reports and national statistics institutes’ estimates, empirical studies also report high proportion of minority arrests compared to their representation in the population (Golub, Johnson, & Dunlap, 2007).
On the other hand, others argue that disproportionality in arrest decisions is commensurate with the racial distributions in offending rather than residential distribution in the population (D’Alessio & Stolzenberg, 2003; Sampson & Lauritsen, 1997). Putting it differently, proponents of this group hold that differential involvement in crime commission leads to higher arrest rates. For this reason, employing frequency of crime involvement as a baseline measure would yield different findings as opposed to relying only population as a baseline measure (Golub et al., 2007).
Take an example, to calculate racial disparities in drug arrests, frequency of drug users for each race group need to be

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