Correlation Proves Causation in Multnomah County Black People in Justice System Report

Fools in OregonFive percent of the population and 27 percent of justice problem. It must the system, right?

A curious article appeared on Oregonlive this morning Blacks overrepresented in every part of Multnomah County’s criminal justice system, report finds.

From the article:

Black people are over-represented in each stage of Multnomah County’s adult criminal justice system — from initial contact and arrest through prosecution, sentencing and parole or probation violations, a new report concludes.

While they make up only 5 percent of the county’s general population, blacks represent 27 percent of its jail population, the Racial and Ethnic Disparities Report shows.

Fortunately, this quote has two sentences to demonstrate a ridiculous correlation proves causation fallacy – put the causation before the correlation.

If you are unfamiliar with this fallacious approach, Ill explain. In statistics, the presence of two variables (here, “black people in Multnomah County” and “criminal justice system population of black people”) doesn’t mean one causes the other.

Lets go ahead and assume the numbers are correct, with black people making up 5% of the general population of Multnomah County, but 27% of people in jail in Multnomah County are black. You can do a quick fact check on 5% (5.7% of the black population in the state, with another 2.7% in next door Washington County) – which are the most urban counties in the State of Oregon.

Let’s look at other correlations…

So absent kids are more likely to drop out, and drop outs are either going to be making far less money than non-drop outs, and make up 80% of convicted criminals in prison.

How might the incarceration rate look for Multnomah County black people if the high school graduation rate was 87%?


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