Newsday / News 12 Special Report

Minorities were more likely to land behind bars than whites for the same charge, data show – even when more whites were arrested.

you’re driving in your car on
Long Island and you’re pulled over by police.

Your race or ethnicity
might play a role in what happens next.

During the past decade,
nonwhites were nearly

5X

more likely than whites
to be arrested after
“stop and frisk”-like
encounters with police.

They are almost

2X

as likely to be sentenced to jail,
even under charges in which
whites were arrested more.

Across Long Island, these charges are predominantly the result of pull-over traffic stops, experts say.

Police say these arrests are based on legally permissible causes or “reasonable suspicion” discretion by officers, part of an overall crime-reduction strategy.

But data show that nonwhites
get arrested and go to jail more often than would be expected

based on Long Island’s population.

73%

27%

Most Long Islanders are white.

73%

27%

Long Island population, 2005-2016

white

nonwhite

37%

But most people arrested under “stop and frisk” charges are nonwhite.

63%

Breakdown of arrests, 2005-2016

white

nonwhite

Newsday / News 12 examined
100,000 cases of “stop and frisk” arrests and 70,000
sentencings.

A pattern emerged.

Nonwhites make up a higher percentage overall of those arrested and those who go to jail.

Here’s how the charges break down:

The “stop and frisk” charge with the highest number of arrests – 53,000 in the last decade — breaks down differently.

Overall, whites are arrested more, but nonwhites went to jail more for criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Nonwhites
were more likely to be arrested
on felony charges and sent to jail.

When it comes to the misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to one year in jail but more often by a fine or probation, whites make up the majority of arrests.

Yet, of 41,000 misdemeanor cases, a higher percentage of the nonwhite arrests ended in jail time compared with white arrests.
Here’s how

Controlled Substance: Arrests

Controlled Substance: Prosecuted

Controlled Substance: Jail Time










These 100 dots represent the 26,000 white arrests

88 out of 100 white cases go to court

26 out of 100 white cases end in jail.










These 100 dots represent the 15,000 nonwhite arrests

92 out of 100 nonwhite cases go to court

46 out of 100 nonwhite cases end in jail.

Controlled Substance: Arrests










These 100 dots represent the 26,000 white arrests










These 100 dots represent the 15,000 nonwhite arrests

The charge is punishable by up to 1 year in jail. But not everyone charged ends up there.

Controlled Substance: Prosecuted










88 out of 100 white cases go to court










92 out of 100 nonwhite cases go to court

The district attorney’s office decides which cases get prosecuted. Some get dropped.

Controlled Substance: Prosecuted










88 out of 100 white cases go to court










92 out of 100 nonwhite cases go to court

Of the cases that end in convictions, some get probation or a fine. Others go to jail.

Controlled Substance: Jail Time










26 out of 100 white cases end in jail.










46 out of 100 nonwhite cases end in jail.

Even when more whites got arrested, nonwhites went to jail more often.

Read the full story See our data

Methodology:

Newsday obtained 100,000 arrest cases and 70,000 sentencing records of 33 “stop and frisk” criminal charges from 2005 to 2016 through a request made to the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services.

Local police and court officials report to the state arrests and as well as outcomes – whether the individual was convicted or not and if convicted, what punishment they faced.

In case where an individual is arrested with multiple charges, the state records only the most serious charge he or she faced at the time of the arrest. If someone is charged with a felony and a misdemeanor, only the felony charge is counted towards the state record. If an individual is arrested with multiple kinds of misdemeanors, only the most serious misdemeanor is recorded.

The state records did not indicate whether an arrested individual had a prior conviction.

An individual can be arrested and the case adjudicated more than once in a given year. While the state could not provide Newsday with the breakdown of such instances for the 33 charges Newsday has looked at, it estimated that 10 percent of all criminal dispositions consisted of people with multiple dispositions in 2015 on Long Island.

In addition, the Nassau County Police department did not properly report Hispanic arrests to New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services for six years, from 2007 to 2012.

Newsday compared the rate of arrests for whites and nonwhites by comparing the number of arrests for each racial group to the Census Bureau population. The state has five racial groups: White, Black, Hispanic, Asian/Indian, Other-Unknown Race. Newsday calculated the rate of sentencing by comparing the number of those who were sentenced jail or prison time to those who were arrested. Newsday also looked at the racial make-up of all 33 misdemeanor and felony arrests, and those who were sentenced for each arrest charge.

Production Credit: Erin Geismar, TC McCarthy, James Stewart, Will Welch. Copy editor: Nirmal Mitra

Top photo credit: iStock/m-imagephotography; stock photo posed by models