Results

Gallup Inc.

08/03/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 08/03/2020 02:09

Black Adults More Likely to Know People Mistreated by Police

Story Highlights

  • 71% of Black adults know 'some' or 'a lot of' people mistreated by police
  • Half report knowing people who were sent to jail unfairly, couldn't post bail
  • These figures are even higher among younger Black adults

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Seven in 10 Black Americans (71%) say they know 'some' or 'a lot of' people who were treated unfairly by the police, a much higher figure than among other racial groups in the U.S. and twice the rate among White Americans.

Meanwhile, half of Black adults report knowing 'some' or 'a lot of' people who were unfairly sent to jail (50%) or who stayed in jail because they didn't have enough money for bail (51%). Both percentages dwarf the figures among White, Asian and Hispanic Americans.

Previously released Gallup data found that Black Americans are much less likely than Americans in general to say that their personal experiences with police were positive and that they were treated fairly and with respect. Gallup's latest findings extend those personal experiences to include people's secondary exposure to negative encounters with law enforcement through their personal acquaintances.

These results are based on a June 23-July 6 survey conducted by web using the Gallup Panel, a probability-based panel of U.S. adults. Findings from this survey and others are available at the Gallup Center on Black Voices.

Gallup previously reported, in partnership with the Center for Advancing Opportunity, that 'the experience of personally knowing people who were treated unfairly by the police affects fragile community residents' views of others, their environment and their individual experiences, including their confidence in the police, their opinions of the area where they live and their perceptions of how they are treated by local police.'

The latest Gallup Panel data track with those earlier findings. The percentage of Black Americans who say they are 'very confident' that they would be treated with courtesy and respect by their local police falls from 75% among those not familiar with anyone who has had negative police interactions to 54% among those who know 'not many' such people and to 23% among those who know 'a lot' or 'some.'

Although less pronounced, reports of knowing people who have been treated unfairly by the police are also associated with lower rates of Black Americans saying their area is a good place for racial and ethnic minorities: 85% of those who don't know any or many people with negative police encounters say this about their community, versus 74% of those who know a lot of or some people with these experiences.

Young Black Adults Even More Likely to Report Knowing Someone Mistreated by Police

The percentages of young Black adults who say they know some or a lot of people who were treated unfairly by the police, sent to jail unfairly or stayed in jail because they didn't have enough money for bail are all more than twice the national averages. Although a majority of Black Americans say they personally know some or a lot of people who were treated unfairly by the police, this figure is even higher among young Black adults aged 18 to 44 (83%) than among those aged 45 to 64 (60%) and those aged 65 and older (57%).

There are no meaningful differences by age among Black Americans who say they know someone who stayed in jail because of a lack of funds to post bail. Young Black adults are significantly more likely than Black seniors to report knowing someone who was sent to jail unfairly, though there is no significant difference between middle-aged Black adults and the other two age groups.

Bottom Line

Whether being unreasonably searched, threatened, abused or unfairly sent to jail, experiences with police mistreatment have larger impacts beyond the individuals involved -- they affect how community residents view the places they live and the institutions that govern them.

Black Americans report personally experiencing mistreatment in life in general at a higher rate than other groups do, and their familiarity with mistreatment by law enforcement spreads even wider when they factor in their friends, family and others they know.

Meanwhile, beyond personally knowing someone mistreated by the police, half of Black adults say they know multiple people who have been treated unfairly by an aspect of the judicial system -- being sent to jail unfairly or being unable to get out because they could not post bail. These collective experiences can shape people's perceptions of and confidence in the judicial system as being one that works against them rather than for them.

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