Preckwinkle Shows Her Ass
- In the winter of 2008, then presidential candidate Barack Obama asserted that blacks and whites "are arrested at very different rates, are convicted at very different rates and receive different sentences for the same crime."
Speaking Tuesday at the Fairmont Hotel during an event sponsored by the Executives Club of Chicago, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle echoed that assertion about Cook County's criminal justice system.
"Nobody talks about institutional racism, but what kind of a criminal justice system has an outcome where 70 percent of the people are African-American and the rest are Latinos."
- Preckwinkle described Cook County jails as "entirely black and brown people. ... This is in a county where a third of our population is African-Americans, a third Latino, and a third white and Asian."
- Steve Patterson, spokesman for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, wouldn't address Preckwinkle's thesis, saying in an email, "At the jail, we just house the people arrested - not sure where that fits with what she's saying."
Ted Pierson, co-chairman of the National Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression, a Chicago area civil rights organization, agreed with Preckwinkle.
"I agree with everything she said," continuing, "the system is rigged."
"The state's attorney won't even bring the case if they're white," Pierson said.
Nationally, Preckwinkle's notions have been challenged numerous times. Heather MacDonald, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, challenged similar nationwide statistics in a June 2008 article for the City Journal.
"The favorite culprits for high black prison rates include a biased legal system, draconian drug enforcement, and even prison itself," McDonald wrote. "None of these explanations stands up to scrutiny. The black incarceration rate is overwhelmingly a function of black crime. Insisting otherwise only worsens black alienation and further defers a real solution to the black crime problem."
John Lott, author of the book "More Guns Less Crime," challenged the idea that the nation's drug laws were biased against African-Americans in a piece for the libertarian Cato Institute, published in March 2009. In it he suggested penalties for drug offenses were set up "because the lives of many blacks were being destroyed by blacks and people thought that they could help by having large penalties on those involved with crack (cocaine)."
A 1994 study by Stanford University professor Joan Petersila of about 11,000 inmates in California concluded that sentencing relied heavily on prior criminal record, seriousness of the offense and the presence of a gun, while race played a negligible role.