No law enforcement statistics come close to backing up Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s assertion that blacks and Hispanics account for ‘‘90-plus percent’’ of heroin-trafficking arrests in the state, the Associated Press reports. LePage, who told the Portland NAACP chapter to ‘‘kiss my butt’’ and blamed out-of-state drug dealers for impregnating ‘‘young white’’ girls, said last month that data he’d collected indicates out-of-state black and Hispanics accounted for ‘‘90-plus percent’’ of heroin-trafficking arrests in Maine. FBI data contradict his assertion, and a criminologist called the governor’s data ‘‘laughable.’’ Members of the African-American community in Maine, the whitest state, fear his comments strengthen racial stereotypes and tacitly approve of racial profiling. The most recent crime data from the FBI suggest the governor’s claim doesn’t pass muster.
The FBI data show that blacks accounted for 14 percent of a total of 1,211 drug sale and manufacturing arrests and 7.4 percent of 5,791 total drug arrests in Maine in 2014. Broken down by type of offense, the data showed that blacks accounted for 35.5 percent of arrests for selling opium-derived drugs including heroin, morphine and cocaine, and 26 percent when synthetic narcotics including most prescription narcotics were included in the tally. The FBI doesn’t include a category for Hispanics. Far from ‘‘90-plus percent,’’ the FBI figures could reflect even higher numbers of black offenders than reality because of small sample size, racial profiling and other factors, said Jack McDevitt of Northeastern University’s Institute on Race and Justice. LePage suggested that his numbers were based on news clippings, not scientific data. Gia Barboza, a professor at Northeastern’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, described the governor’s ‘‘90-plus percent’’ figure as ‘‘laughable’’ and ‘‘completely inaccurate.’’