Hispanic Crime Estimates

Hispanic Crime Estimates by Ron Unz
The American Conservative, March 12, 2010

I’m afraid that Jason Richwine’s latest posting in the Great Hispanic Crime Debate makes a very silly claim. He seemingly comes close to accusing me of intellectual dishonesty for pointing out that the PPIC Hispanic incarceration data for California is within 10% of my own California figures for the 15-44 age range, arguing that I was virtually pulling a rabbit out of my hat since I’d only presented the lower 18-29 age range figure in my original article.

This is complete nonsense, as anyone who has actually read my article surely knows. From the very beginning, I’d emphasized the methodological uncertainties of my (crude) age-normalization process, and therefore stated that I was repeating all my calculations for the three different ranges 18-29, 15-34, and 15-44 in order to minimize these problems. The very first chart in my article provides the age-adjusted national incarceration data for all of these ranges, I mentioned that the numerical results ranged from 1.13 to 1.31 in my text, and I provided the white results for all the different age ranges in Chart 5 as well. Although for obvious reasons of space, most of my other charts necessarily focused on the results for a particular case, the 18-29 age range, they were clearly labeled as such, and since the relative national averages had already been provided for all range ages, anyone who wished could mentally adjust the figures accordingly. In fact, as I’ve already pointed out, the California figures are very close to the national averages for each age range, which is why the ethnic incarceration chart in the PPIC report looks so remarkably similar to my own Chart 1.

Indeed, quite a number of anti-immigrationists have cited my 31% higher Hispanic incarceration rate figure for the 15-44 age range as proof that although Hispanics may not be a “very high crime” population, they are certainly a “high crime” population relative to whites. So perhaps these individuals simply read my article more closely than did Richwine.

Richwine also seems to miss my point that all my results were gender-aggregated since that was the format of the BJS statistics I used; since Hispanic females apparently have much lower crime rates than white females, this can produce a noticeable adjustment. For example, the gender-merged Hispanic incarceration ratio in the PPIC report is actually around 1.4 rather than the 1.48 figure claimed by Richwine, which brings it pretty close to my own.

If the worst that anyone can say about my (admittedly very rough) estimates of Hispanic criminality is that I was probably off by 10%, I’ll hardly be mortified.

Meanwhile, Mike Males of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice has produced a nice analysis of California ethnic crime rates over the last three decades which seems to support my own conclusions.



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