O'Reilly Dismisses Overrepresentation Of Blacks In Criminal Justice System

Fox News host Bill O'Reilly ignored his guest's statement that the disproportionately high incarceration among blacks rates pose a threat to young black males.

On the July 15 edition of his Fox News show, O'Reilly hosted Fox News contributor Rev. Jacques DeGraff to comment on his views about race following George Zimmerman's acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin, which has sparked protests around the country. Responding to O'Reilly's question about “what do you want to change” following the trial, DeGraff said that it has been “open season on black young men” in the criminal justice system, which has disproportionately targeted black men across the country. O'Reilly dismissed his statement, saying, “That's not true, I don't believe that for a second.” Asked by DeGraff to “explain the disparity” of black men disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, O'Reilly insisted that “high-crime districts” were to blame, “where police flood in to protect the citizens and make more arrests than they would make in low-crime districts.” DeGraff then tried to point out again that there is a “disparity in sentencing.”

But O'Reilly ignored the fact that black men are incarcerated more often and given longer sentences than whites for the same crimes.

The New York Times highlighted a Justice Department report that found that people of color were searched more than double the amount of whites, and that black people are incarcerated more frequently and for longer periods of time:

But recent research has kept the argument alive. A 2005 study by the Justice Department found that while Hispanic, black and white drivers were stopped by the police about as often, Hispanic drivers or their vehicles were searched 11.4 percent of the time and blacks 10.2 percent of the time, compared with 3.5 percent for white drivers. Data collected from state courts by the Justice Department also shows that a higher percentage of black felons than white felons receive prison sentences for nearly all offenses, and also that blacks receive longer maximum sentences for most offenses.

The Huffington Post reported that black youth arrest rates for drug, assaults, and weapon offences “are higher than arrest rates for white youth -- even though both report similar rates of delinquency.” The article went on to note that “federal lawmakers recognize youth of color are treated differently by the juvenile justice system.” The Sentencing Project found that blacks are incarcerated at “nearly six (5.6) times the rate of whites.” The ACLU pointed out that 1 in every 106 white men are incarcerated, compared to 1 in every 15 black men:

 The Prison Policy Initiative found similar statistics in its study on prison incarceration rates by race and sex: