May 30, 2020
Arrests with racial disparities persist, but decline
SAN FRANCISCO – (INT) - Racial disparities in arrests have narrowed—but they are still prevalent across the state. Disparities tend to be larger in more affluent and less diverse counties.

Other findings by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC):

African Americans have higher arrest rates than whites in nearly all of California’s 58 counties. In counties with the largest racial disparities, the African American arrest rate is on average about six times higher than the white arrest rate, compared to almost double among counties with the lowest racial disparities. In contrast, the disparities between Latino and white arrest rates are less widespread.

Demographics and economic conditions vary greatly across counties with lower and higher racial disparities. For instance, among California’s largest 49 counties, those with the greatest racial disparities between African Americans and whites have higher median household incomes ($76,700 per year) and lower average poverty rates (11.6%) than counties with the lowest racial disparities ($51,100 and 18.7%, respectively). Counties with higher educational attainment also tend to have greater racial disparities in arrest.

In 1992, the African American felony arrest rate was 7,217 per 100,000 residents, compared to 2,455 for Latinos and 1,198 for whites. Since then, the disparities in felony arrests rates have narrowed, with rates decreasing for African Americans (a 55% decline), for Latinos (62% decline), and for whites (37% decline).

In 2014, Proposition 47 reclassified several drug and property offenses from felonies to misdemeanors, which appears to have affected the overall shares of felony arrests.

While the shares of violent and drug-related misdemeanors have increased, the share of misdemeanor property arrests has declined. Similarly, misdemeanor drug arrests have also grown as a share of all arrests, particularly for Latinos and whites.

Story Date: November 13, 2019
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