No retreat laws as a racial issue
An editorial in the Madison Times is headlined "Blacks who stand their ground often imprisoned." It cites to a Tampa Bay Times article that claimed "Defendants claiming "stand your ground" are more likely to prevail if the victim is black. Seventy-three percent of those who killed a black person faced no penalty compared to 59 percent of those who killed a white."
I immediately noted the article gives the race of the person killed, but not the race of the person defending, which is the real measure. I knew that homicides overwhelming occur within ethnic groups. They're overwhelming white on white, black on black, etc.. So if defenders who kill blacks are acquitted at high rates, that means blacks who assert self defense are acquitted at high rates.
The article didn't give figures for the ethnicity of the defender, but it did give its raw data, in the form of individual files.
UPDATE: These are the results after reviewing all the files. I disregarded pending cases, and the few where ethnicity was not noted. I list here as "exonerated" all those in which charges were not filed, were dismissed, or the person was acquitted:
White defenders: 50 exonerated, 26 convicted. Exoneration rate: 65.7%
African-American defenders: 20 exonerated, 10 convicted. Exoneration rate: 66.6%
Hispanic American defenders: seven exonerated, one convicted. Exoneration rate: 87.5%.
Looking at it another way, African-Americans make up 16% of Florida's population, but 26% of persons exonerated under Florida' "no retreat" and self-defense statutes.
So in the end, no retreat or stand your ground laws actually benefit minorities compared to the rest of Floridians. African-Americans and whites are virtually tied, and Hispanics come out ahead. The Tampa Bay Times was trying to reverse the actual effects, in order to generate a story that fit its narrative.
12 of 21 and 8 of 11 are not statistically different proportions. The sample is too small to support the claim that there is a difference in the populations the two samples represent.
Posted by: denton at July 25, 2013 10:36 AM
The editorial did mention the race of the shooter, about halfway down:
"...an analysis of Supplemental Homicide Reports (SHR) submitted by local law enforcement to the FBI between 2005 and 2010 demonstrates that in cases with a Black shooter and a White victim, the rate of justifiable homicide rulings is about 1 percent. However, if the shooter is White and the victim is Black, it is ruled justified in 9.5 percent of cases in non-Stand Your Ground states. In Stand Your Ground states, the rate is even higher—almost 17 percent, according to John Roman of the Urban Institute."
This can be interpreted two ways, however. One is that even though the the black on white shooters might have had a legitimate claim of self defense, they were not given a fair trial (because they were black). Or two, there were ten times fewer (statistically) black on white shooters who had a legitimate claim of self defense.
Number two is, of course, a politically incorrect point of view and, therefore, the first interpretation prevails.
Posted by: Anonymous at July 25, 2013 12:40 PM
But then the victim numbers are also statistically well within any MOA, too.
Posted by: Incontinentia Buttocks at July 25, 2013 01:17 PM
Guess the Tampa Bay times has read Darrell Huff's 1954 book "How to Lie With Statistics" great little book if you can find a copy.
Posted by: David Rizzico at July 25, 2013 05:16 PM
Journalism Today 101: Don't get confused by the facts once your mind's made up.
Posted by: wrangler5 at July 25, 2013 06:24 PM
The Tampa Bay article is incredibly deceptive in how it is written, something many people don't comment on. It goes out of its way to make claims that are not backed up by the evidence it used.
For example, the article cites a number of cases to prove how outlandish Stand Your Ground has become:
"It has also been used by a self-described "vampire" in Pinellas County, a Miami man arrested with a single marijuana cigarette, a Fort Myers homeowner who shot a bear and a West Palm Beach jogger who beat a Jack Russell terrier."
The vampire case: Judge denied Stand Your Ground motion.
Single Mariguna Cigarette: Man was not charged with assault. He had to defend himself (his story), took the knife away from his attacker, and fled. He was later picked up because of the incident, in which the marijuana was found on him and he was arrested. The lawyer's argument was that the police never had cause to search him.
Black Bear: Judge denied the motion.
Terrier: Judge denied the motion
So in three of the four cases, the judge denied Stand Your Ground, and in the fourth the question was whether it was or was not a legal search. So the author is saying that these cases show the 'strange' ways in which Stand Your Ground is being used. A casual reader would likely assume that the motions were succesful, not that a judge denied them.
The reason the author needs to obfuscate the point is that if he told the truth, what would the story be? The law worked as intended. Lawyers made a motion and the judge denied it for not falling under the law.
It gets worse though, in the next paragraph
"People often go free under "stand your ground" in cases that seem to make a mockery of what lawmakers intended. One man killed two unarmed people and walked out of jail. Another shot a man as he lay on the ground. "
Man shoots two unarmed men: The shooter is a disabled vet, the summary doesn't say how disabled. He was cornered on a boat by two men who were intoxicated who tried to remove him. There is a huge lack of facts presented in the summary, but it is quite possible this was legitimate self defense with one disabled man being confronted by two intoxicated indiviuals.
Man shoots person laying on the ground: The man who was killed initiated a robbery in which he used a gun. The man who claimed immunity used a gun to defend himself and claimed he continued to fire because a gun was still being pointed at him. One witness claimed that the shooter stood over the deceased and fired down at him.
In the first case, there is more to the story then just 'unarmed men'. In the second case, one witness' statement is treated as an undispituted fact without noting the assertions of the defendent or the circumstances that caused the shooting.
The Tampa Bay article has been cited numerous times by people oppossing Stand Your Ground laws. Just given the court summaries I can't say that there were no miscarriages of justice, or that legal mistakes never happened (which is a crazy burden anyway, unless someone beleives no mistakes ever happen without Stand Your Ground Laws), but I can say there is much more to the story than the Tampa Bay article implies.
Posted by: DigDeeper at July 26, 2013 10:48 AM
Posted by: qaoxuobkzn at August 3, 2013 12:23 PM