Do Stand Your Ground Laws Provoke Racial Disparities Inside The Justice System
With some observers believing how Stand Your Ground (SYG) laws warp the nation’s justice system, the discussion isn’t over — by a long shot.
In state-jurisdictions where SYG laws are in place, murders are two-timed as apt to be determined “justifiable” as states where SYG is not a factor.
A recent study by the Public Broadcasting System reveals the truth behind SYG laws.
Shootings are ruled justifiable in less than 2% of homicides. The rate rises significantly where SYG laws claim to protect innocent shooters. In cases where the victim and shooter are strangers, and a handgun is involved, murder is ruled “justifiable” in 10% of the incidents.
Nationally when the shooter is white, and the victim is white, the shootings ruled justifiable is just over 11%. However, when both the shooter and victim are black, the justifiable rate drops to 8%.
When the shooter is white, and the victim is black, the rate of rulings which call the shooting “justifiable” rockets to 34%. When the circumstances are reversed, and the shooter is black, and the victim is white, shootings are determined to be justifiable in just over 3% of occurrences.
There’s no doubt the racial disparity exists. Why? There are some reasons — including some possibly legitimate ones. It could be that black on white murders tend to be street crimes which turn deadly, where the white on black shootings might be a defense in home invasions.
The existence of a racial disparity exists and calls for more attention. We support the recent call by the U.N. Council on Human Rights for investigation.
Using a statistical technique labeled “regression analysis,” we looked at the connection between the races of the victim and the shooter in justifiable homicide rulings. Regression analysis shows the same outcome as mentioned — black shooters are far less likely to be found justified in a shooting while the shootings where the victim is black are more likely to be ruled justified.
When compared with white on white shootings in states without an SYG law, we find:
- A white on white shooting is not as likely to be ruled justified
- A black on white shooting is less apt to be ruled justified, and
- A white on the black shooting is more apt to be ruled justified.
One has to wonder if the racial differences remain in SYG states. Compared with white on white shootings in an SYG state:
- Black on black homicides and black on white murders are LESS likely to be ruled justified, however white on black shootings are more apt to be ruled justified.
- SYG laws don’t appear to reduce racial disparities and often make the inequality more pronounced.
- SYG laws are bad, and the figures support that determination.
Originally posted on Urban Institute