During a segment on drug incarceration, Fox News’ Eric Bolling suggested the higher incarceration rates for African Americans are not about race, but instead because “blacks committed more of the same crimes.” From the April 22 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor:
BILL O’REILLY (HOST): I feel very strongly that if my children were addicted to heroin and I knew who was selling them the heroin, I would not consider it a nonviolent action. How about you?
ERIC BOLLING: No, I think you have to go hard on the drug dealers, distributors.
O’REILLY: Even the punks on the street?
BOLLING: Even the punks on the street. I don’t think it has anything to do with race, it has to do with what they are doing. They are providing access for kids, people to hurt themselves.
O’REILLY: Why does the left see it differently and is trying to diminish the harmfulness of their actions?
BOLLING: Well Russell Simmons tried to make it about race. He said more blacks are incarcerated than whites therefore --
O’REILLY: Well it's a big issue.
BOLLING: Because maybe more blacks are committing more of the same crimes. It's still illegal to sell heroin. It's still illegal to sell opiates.
O’REILLY: May not be much longer, Colmes, the way the trends are going in this country.
According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, prison sentences of African American men were almost 20 percent longer than white men for similar crimes. The Wall Street Journal attributed the gap to judicial discretion, restored by the Supreme Court in 2005. In a September 2014 article, the Washington Post reported that, while whites and blacks use drugs at about the same rate, and whites are more likely to sell, blacks are “far more likely” to be arrested for sale and possession.
Fox’s Bill O’Reilly has a history of campaigning against drug sentencing reform, despite the evidence that current laws target minorities. O’Reilly has previously stated that drug sentencing reform sends a message that drugs aren’t dangerous.