Blacks ‘Overrepresented’ in Arrests for Nonfatal Violent Crimes: BJS

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African Americans are “overrepresented” in the number of people arrested for nonfatal violent crimes, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

Based on figures from the 2018 FBI Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), the last year for which data are available, Blacks comprised 33 per cent of those arrested for nonviolent offenses and 36 percent of those arrested for “serious” nonfatal crimes involving violence—although they represent 13 percent of the U.S. population, BJS said.

In contrast, white people represented 46 percent of those arrested for rape, robbery, aggravated assault and all other assault, and 39 percent of arrestees for nonfatal violent crimes excluding other types of assault; but they comprised 60 percent of the population.

In order to determine whether race and ethnicity explained differences in criminal involvement, BJS compared the UCR figures to statistics from the National Crime Victims Survey (NCVS) which are sometimes considered more representative since it also captures crimes not reported to police.

Researchers found that victims identified Blacks as being responsible for just under 29 percent of nonfatal violent crimes―a smaller percentage of those arrested. They accounted for almost 36 percent of serious violent crimes reported by victims, close to the figure of arrestees reported by the UCR.

White offenders were “underrepresented among persons arrested for nonfatal violent crimes (46 percent) relative to their representation among offenders identified by victims in the NCVS (52 percent),” BJS said.

The statistical brief did not provide the race of the victims.

Turning to serious violent offenses such as rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault, BJS said it found “no statistically significant differences by race between offenders identified in the NCVS and persons arrested per the UCR.”

During the same period, Latinx offenders comprised 16 percent of offenders involved in serious nonfatal violent crimes, nearly proportionate to their representation in the U.S. population (18 percent).

The UCR report showed that Latinx individuals accounted for 21 percent of those arrested for serious nonfatal violent offenses, but they were significantly underrepresented among offenders involved in simple assault (13 percent), BJS said.

BJS acknowledged that victimization figures for Hispanics could be misleading since many victims may not have been able to identify the ethnicity of their assailants “even if they knew their race.”

Asians, who comprise 6 percent of the U.S. population. were also “consistently” underrepresented, with between 1 percent and 2 percent involved in simple assault. BJS said. The one exception was rape or sexual assault, where the overall percentage of Asian offenders amounted to 5 percent.

The statistical brief was prepared by BJS Statistician Allen L. Beck, Ph.D.

The brief and associated tables are available here.

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