Iowa Radio Host Steve Deace Ignores Abundance Of Evidence Indicating Racial Discrimination By Iowa's Police

Iowa radio host Steve Deace claimed there was no evidence proving African-Americans are treated differently by police in Iowa, despite overwhelming data showing that racial disparities in Iowa arrest rates are among the worst in the nation.

Steve Deace: Treatment Of African-Americans In Iowa Based On “Perceptions” Not Evidence

Deace: “We're Debating A Point That Isn't Proven.” While discussing a panel on race and policing, Steve Deace claimed that the debate over racial disparities in the treatment of African-Americans in Iowa is based on “perceptions,” not on evidence:

STEVE DEACE: I think it comes down to basic language. We're debating a point that isn't proven. We're debating a point that isn't proven. So we're debating a matter of perceptions. You see that in the polling data you just -- the perceptions are just totally flipped based on someone's racial, cultural identity. And there's no -- you know I was listening to one of my radio mentor's local radio show this morning here in town when I was driving back from the gym. And he's doing a panel discussion on race. And the individual he's talking -- one of the individuals he's talking to just makes it sound like, "well we know, we know that black people are treated worse by the cops in the suburbs than they're treated in the city of Des Moines.

REBEKAH MAXWELL: And I would say, “Based on what?”

DEACE: And that is the question I wanted to ask. How do we know that?

MAXWELL: Can you give me the studies and show me the data?

DEACE: How would we know that?

[USA Radio Network, Steve Deace Show, 5/4/15]

Racial Disparities In Iowa's Criminal Justice And Policing Data Rank Among The Nation's Worst

The Des Moines Register: “Blacks In Iowa Arrested At Rates Higher Than Other Races.” According to a report by The Des Moines Register and USA Today, police arrested African-Americans at a rate “almost 10 times that of people of other races”:

Law enforcement agencies in dozens of Iowa communities and counties over a two-year period arrested blacks at rates that were up to almost 10 times that of people of other races, a lopsided trend that mirrors the nation, according to an analysis of arrest records by USA TODAY and The Des Moines Register.

The issue, while not new, is getting renewed attention after this summer's police-involved shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo. Community groups nationwide are calling for a closer examination of arrest and incarceration rates of blacks as well as the decriminalization of some acts such as possession of small amounts of marijuana. [The Des Moines Register, 11/19/14]

ACLU: “Iowa Ranks Worst In The Nation In Racial Disparities Of Marijuana Arrests” According to the ACLU, African-Americans in Iowa are “8 times as likely” to be arrested for possession of marijuana “despite equal usage rates” as whites (emphasis added):

Iowa has the highest racial disparity rate in the country with a black person being 8.34 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as a white person. Iowa is followed by Washington D.C., Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania.

In Iowa, blacks make up just 3.1 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But in 2010, they were arrested at a rate 8.34 times higher than whites for marijuana possession. That translates into 1,454 blacks arrested per 100,000 of the black general population compared to just 174 whites arrested per 100,000 of the white general population.


The ACLU study is especially significant because it examines an area of the law which is violated by whites and blacks at roughly equal rates--dispelling the argument that blacks commit more of a particular crime and therefore are arrested at higher rates. The report cites the National Household Survey of Drug Abuse and Health that found in 2010 nationally 14 percent of blacks and 11.6 percent of whites reported using marijuana in the past year. [ACLU, 6/4/13]

The Gazette: Minority Drivers Stopped At Higher Rates And “Roughly Three Times More Likely” To Be Searched and Arrested Than White Drivers. Research reported by The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa showed that minority drivers were more likely to be stopped, searched, and arrested than white drivers:

Minority drivers were stopped at disproportionately higher rates by Iowa City police officers in recent years and were roughly three times more likely than other drivers to be searched and arrested, according to a study.

The researcher, however, told the City Council at a work session Monday night that he could not conclude racial bias was at play. And police Chief Sam Hargadine said while the results raise concerns, he believes his officers have no ill intentions and the release of the data will help his department “grow.”


The study was done by Christopher Barnum, a St. Ambrose University sociology and criminal justice professor and a former Cedar Rapids police officer. Starting in 2006, he was given Iowa City police traffic stop data, and the study covers 2005-2007 and 2010-2012, with the middle two years unavailable.

Police officers were not told of the study so as to not affect their behavior, Hargadine said.

Barnum found that about 10 percent of drivers in Iowa City were minorities during the study period. Research has shown Asians are usually disproportionately underrepresented in traffic stops, so Barnum's study groups them with whites.

From 2005 through 2007, about 14 percent of traffic stops involved minority drivers, which the study says is a “comparatively low” level of disproportionately.

From 2010 through 2012, however, that number increased to 18 to 19 percent. [The Gazette, 6/17/14]

Human Rights Watch: Iowa Leads The Nation In Disproportionate Arrests Of Black People For Drug Crimes. A report by Human Rights Watch that analyzed arrest data showed Iowa and Minnesota tied for the highest black-to-white ratio of drug arrests in the nation:

The higher rates of black drug arrests do not reflect higher rates of black drug offending. Indeed, as detailed in our May 2008 report, Targeting Blacks: Drug Law Enforcement and Race in the United States, blacks and whites engage in drug offenses--possession and sales--at roughly comparable rates. But because black drug offenders are the principal targets in the “war on drugs,” the burden of drug arrests and incarceration falls disproportionately on black men and women, their families and neighborhoods. The human as well as social, economic and political toll is as incalculable as it is unjust.


Although state rates of black and white drug arrests vary considerably, in every state the black rate of drug arrests per 100,000 black residents is considerably higher than the white rate per 100,000 white residents. Black rates of drug arrest range from a low of 428 in Hawaii to a high of 4,210 per 100,000 blacks in Illinois. In 20 states, the black rate of arrest is 2,000 or more per 100,000. White drug arrest rates range from a low of 169 to a high of 1,029 per 100,000 whites. The black-to-white ratio of drug arrest rates ranges from a low of two in Hawaii to a high of 11.3 in Minnesota and Iowa (Table 4). In nine states, blacks are arrested on drug charges at rates more than seven times the rate of whites. [Human Rights Watch, March 2009]

Iowa Chief Justice: “Iowa [Is] A Leader In The Nation In The Statistic Showing Racial Disparities In The Criminal Justice System.” Speaking about efforts to combat racial disparity in arrests in Iowa, Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, Mark Cady, acknowledged the state's need to make the state's criminal justice system more racially impartial:

Iowa's court system should work in 2015 to become a nationwide leader in addressing racial disparities in its criminal justice system, while also working to make courthouse employees safer across the state, the chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court told lawmakers Wednesday.

In his annual State of the Judiciary address, Chief Justice Mark Cady highlighted efforts in the Iowa City community and by judges to combat staggering statistics that show blacks are sent to prison and to juvenile courts at significantly higher rates than other racial groups.

In Iowa, 9.4 percent of adult black men are incarcerated - the third highest percentage in the United States, Cady said.

“Iowa may be a leader in the nation in the statistics showing racial disparities in its criminal justice system,” Cady said to a standing ovation from lawmakers. “Iowa can also lead the nation in finding solutions to end racial disparities.” [The Des Moines Register, 1/14/15]