Racial disparities in California arrests have dropped over the last couple of decades, but they haven’t gone away.
A Public Policy of California report examined state and Census data from 1992 through 2016, the most recent year it was available.
Report co-author Brandon Martin says the African-American arrest rate has only dropped from 3.6 times the white rate to an even three times. On the other hand, the Latino disparity has almost disappeared. It fell from 1.8 times the White rate to now just 1.1 times as high.
“In almost half the counties, Latinos have a higher arrest rate than whites, but in the remaining counties, they actually have a lower arrest rate compared to whites,” Martin said. “That is different from the widespread disparity that we see when we look at African-American to white arrest rates.”
Martin says African-American arrest rate disparities are greatest in more affluent, less diverse counties.
“We see that they have higher median incomes, they have lower poverty rates, they have a higher number of college graduates in the county,” he said.
Felony arrest rates have fallen sharply, at least in part because voter-approved Proposition 47 changed several drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.
The African-American felony arrest rate dropped 55 percent from 1992 through 2016, while the Latino rate fell 62 percent. The White arrest rate dropped 37 percent.