James Scanlan 
Member since Jul 25, 2016

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Re: “Racial disparities persist in marijuana arrests

Whenever there occurs a general decrease in some adverse outcome, groups with the lower baseline rate tends to experience larger proportionate decline in rates of experiencing the outcome while other groups tend to experience larger proportionate increases in rates of avoiding the outcome. Correspondingly relative differences in rates of experiencing the declining outcomes tend to increase while relative differences in avoiding the outcomes tend to decrease.

References 1 and 2 explain these matters fairly succinctly. Reference 3 and 4 discuss the patterns that have been observed in Colorado and Denver as both have generally reduced school suspensions. Reference 5 explains the matter to the City of Boulder with regard to criminal justice issues and reference 6 urges the American Statistical Association to explain the matter to the President.

But statement “since 2012, marijuana arrests among white kids decreased by 8 percent, but increased among Hispanic kids by 29 percent and among black kids by 58 percent” (original emphasis) suggests a substantial departure from the usual situation where all groups’ rates change in the same direction. But if the statement actually means that the proportion white kids made up of persons arrested decreased while the proportion Hispanic and black kids made up of persons arrested increased, that would simply be a reflection of the usual pattern. See reference 1 and Table 1 of reference 6. See also the July 1, 2016 preliminary note to reference 7.
J Scanlan

1. “Things DOJ doesn’t know about racial disparities in Ferguson,” The Hill (Feb. 22, 2016)
2. “Things government doesn’t know about racial disparities,” The Hill (Jan. 28, 2014).
3. Denver Disparities subpage of Discipline Disparities page of jpscanlan.com
4. Colorado Disparities subpage of Discipline Disparities page of jpscanlan.com
5. Letter to City of Boulder, Colorado (Mar. 5, 2016)
6. Letter to American Statistical Association (July 25, 2016)
7. Rhode Island Disparities subpage of Discipline Disparities page of jpscanlan.com

Posted by James Scanlan on 07/25/2016 at 5:32 PM

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