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Incarceration Rates by Race in California Counties
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April 06, 2018, 07:49 AM
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Here are incarceration rates by race per 1,000 people from well-known California counties, the 14 biggest counties, plus a selection of smaller ones (such as Marin and Kings at opposite ends of the social scale). These counties account for 33 million of California’s population of 38 million.

First, here are the counties in order of population:

Screenshot 2018-04-05 16.43.56

Second, here are the incarceration rates per 1000 by race:

Screenshot 2018-04-05 16.45.15

One thing that’s striking is how similar the black incarceration rates are across such a wide variety of counties. The white rate, for instance, has a range of almost 15x from purely expensive big city San Francisco County (which is coterminous with city of San Francisco) at 0.4 to 5.9 in rural Kings County in the Central Valley (which I included for its high incarceration rate). A more representative high white rate is the 3.5 in Kern County (Bakersfield). So from Kern to SF is a ratio of close to 9x.

White incarceration rates are more variable by county.

The black rate runs from 8.7 in Solano County (on the northeast side of San Francisco Bay: Vallejo, where Sly and the Family Stone came from in the 1960s, is in Solano County) and 9.3 in Contra Costa County (Richmond north of Oakland/Berkeley and inland Walnut Creek) to 24.8 in Kings County. The second highest is Sacramento at 21.3 followed by Los Angeles at 20.8. So the black range, excluding tiny Kings, isn’t much more than 2x.

This suggests to me that African American culture is pretty homogeneous in California, more so than white American culture.

And here are the ratios of the incarceration rates:

Screenshot 2018-04-05 16.46.28

The Black/White incarceration ratio is 9.3x for the entire state.

Variations are largely driven by differences in white behavior. The lowest B/W ratio of 4.2x is found in Kings County with its raucous rural whites and similar lower ratios are found in exurban Southern California, like San Bernardino County (where the Hell’s Angels originated) with a 4.7x.

The biggest black/white incarceration inequality is found in San Francisco County (where blacks are locked up 28.3 times as often as whites), where Trump only got 9% of the vote. In contrast, in much more equal San Bernardino County (where blacks are incarcerated 4.7 times as often as whites), Trump got 42%.

So we see in California the usual pattern of more liberalism equals more racial inequality in incarceration rates.

The Latino/White incarceration rate ratios is 2.0 for the whole state, but tends to be higher in older established Mexican communities, like Los Angeles (2.7x) and Orange County (3.0x).

The Asian/White ratio is 0.2x for the entire state. The Black/Asian ratio for the whole state is 58.7x, although rounding issues make this ratio less reliable.

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