B. African Americans Disproportionately Live in High-Crime Areas
Thus far, this Note has demonstrated that the strongest correlation to violent crime rates in major urban cities is the size of the African American population. It has also shown that African Americans commit more violent crime in central urban areas as an inevitable and rational response to the so-called War on Drugs. Due to institutional and political racism, poor African Americans are more likely to reside in inner-city neighborhoods than whites. Because of the high levels of black-white segregation in these areas in conjunction with high rates of poverty police practices that target these regions, and mass incarceration, there is far more violent crime in central metropolitan areas.
However, there are additional inferences required to conclude that high-crime areas are predominately high-black areas: (1) more crime generally occurs in inner-city urban areas than suburban and rural areas; and (2) in addition to violent crimes, African Americans are also disproportionately targeted for drug offenses.
First, "crime is particularly high in poor, minority neighborhoods." In addition, "[c]rime rates are generally higher in the central city of a metropolitan statistical area ... than in the suburbs." Urban violent crime rates are 1.49 times higher than rates of suburban neighborhoods and 1.57 times higher than rates of rural areas. Likewise, "property crime rates in urban areas are 1.36 times the comparable rate for suburban areas, and 1.61 times the comparable rate for rural areas." Generally, "large cities have higher crime rates than smaller cities, urban areas have higher crime rates than suburb and rural areas, and poor, largely minority neighborhoods have higher crime rates than more affluent white neighborhoods." Second, in addition to being disproportionately arrested for violent crimes, African Americans are far more likely to be arrested for drug offenses. Blacks make up roughly 14 percent of the United States population. Whites make up 64 percent. "While African-Americans account for only 17 percent of drug users nationwide, they represent 37 percent of those arrested for drug use." To make matters worse, 46 percent of all defendants convicted for drug offenses are black. Meanwhile, whites "account for 82 percent of drug users yet only 62 percent of drug arrests." For marijuana specifically, "black people and white people smoke marijuana at similar rates, yet black people are 3.7 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession." Although whites are up to 32 percent more likely to sell marijuana, blacks are four times as likely to be arrested for distribution. To top it all off, racist policy changes made it easier to lock up African Americans behind bars for longer periods of time. "The disproportionate representation of blacks among drug arrests is linked to the increased law enforcement focus [during the 1980s and 1990s] on fighting the use of crack cocaine." Under the infamous 100:1 ratio, a drug offender apprehended with five grams of crack cocaine used to face the same mandatory sentence as a drug offender with 500 grams of powder cocaine. This "was driven nearly in its entirety by the fact that blacks consume crack at a higher rate than whites." In addition to the arbitrary mandatory minimum sentences, the increased funding of police departments for anti-drug activities during the War on Drugs skyrocketed the federal prison rates for drug offenses "from 23 percent in 1980 to about 60 percent in 2000." Blacks bore the majority of this increase. The bottom line is that the single most significant variable in accounting for urban crime rates is the size of the African American population. Unsurprisingly, crime is a particularly severe problem in predominately poor neighborhoods of urban areas, where African Americans are more likely to reside. In other words, high-crime areas are usually high-black areas.