African-Americans, who constitute 6 percent of the population in California, account for 17 percent of all arrests in the state, according to data released Wednesday by the California Department of Justice. It also showed that juvenile arrests among blacks were considerably higher than those among whites.
The data released on the Open Justice website, launched Wednesday, included information about arrests, custodial deaths and officers killed in the line of duty in California. The data reveals racial disparity in terms of arrests in the state.
“It's very stark and we really have to have a dialogue about why so many African Americans are dying compared to the state population," Justin Erlich, a special assistant attorney general, supervising the data collection and analysis, told the Associated Press.
The data for arrests was recorded between 1980 and 2013 and included bookings of 64.5 million Californians. Hispanics, who make up 37 percent of the state's population, accounted for 42 percent of arrests, while only 3 percent of Asians, with 13 percent of the state's population, were arrested.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said that the data would help tackle the racial inequality. "Out of crisis comes opportunity," Beck reportedly said. "We have a national crisis in policing. It's also a huge opportunity to take a step forward and build trust where sometimes in some communities it has been lost."
The data also showed that since 1980, an average of 10 police officers have died every year. Of them, 187 were killed while performing their duties and 158 were accidental. Between 1980 and 2014, a total of 345 officers died in the line of duty.
In contrast, custodial deaths were high among whites with 41 percent, 29 percent among Hispanics and 24 percent in the African-American population.
“Being ‘Smart on Crime’ means measuring our effectiveness in the criminal justice system with data and metrics,” California Attorney General Kamala Harris said, in a statement. “This initiative puts forward a common set of facts, data and goals so that we can hold ourselves accountable and improve.”