The *More Black Males In Prison, Therefore Injustice* Argument
I've complained about this one for long time, but the stuff about Clinton and BLM gives me occasion to complain about it again:
The fact that group A and group B are imprisoned at differential rates doesn't entail that this is because of (nor even primarily or largely because of) injustice/prejudice.
Males are imprisoned at much higher rates than females. In fact, the differential between males and females dwarfs the differential between blacks and whites. But this in no way proves that the judicial system is biased against males--and no one anywhere thinks it does. Because males commit more crimes than women do, and everyone knows that.
And the fact of the matter is that black males commit crimes--including violent crimes--at a higher rate than white males. So a fair judicial system will imprison black males at a higher rate.
Why do black males commit crimes at a higher rate than white males? Do they commit crimes at a rate commensurate with their rates of imprisonment? Is the judicial system systematically biased against blacks (or at least black males)? I don't know the answers to any of these questions, but I've read enough to know that it's complicated... And remember, my aim here is not to try to answer questions outside of my area of expertise.
All I aim to do here is point out, yet again, that differences in incarceration rates alone do not prove bias. Now such differentials do, I think, give prima facie reason to worry that bias is afoot. But all that can do is point us in the direction of addressing more complicated questions. The fact that such a high percentage of black males is in prison is also prima facie reason to look hard at the system--but the percentage, startling as it is in and of itself, it doesn't mean much without knowledge of how many black males are committing what kinds of crimes and so on.
By all means, be worried about all this. Just don't make the mistake of thinking that differential rates of imprisonment alone are proof of bias.