Loury: Blacks make up an average of around 40 percent of inmates in prisons and jails, but they make up no more than 15 percent of the population. If you look at the statistics, there is no evidence to support the hypothesis that this overrepresentation can be explained by racist prejudices of the police or the courts. Rather, the numbers show that this is due to an overrepresentation of blacks who violate the law.
It’s legitimate to ask why black men commit more crimes than whites. But it is a fact that they commit massively more homicides; almost 50 percent of homicides, while representing maybe 6 percent or 7 percent of the U.S. population. Or consider robbery: many more whites are victimized by blacks than vice versa, speaking in absolute numbers, not per capita.
Part of the reason why the police have had so many difficult encounters with black people is because the crime rate in black areas is much higher. For example: If the police want to arrest a driver in a black neighborhood, they must be prepared for the possibility that the driver might have a gun on him. Statistically speaking, this is generally not the case—but experience has shown the likelihood that such a dangerous situation will arise is higher in black areas.