Driving While Black In Houston

Driving While Black In Houston


According to a study conducted by the Houston Police Department (HPD), black motorists are stopped more often than drivers of other racial backgrounds.  This is probably not shocking to African American readers.  The realities of over policing and prosecuting African Americans, whether conscious or subconscious, demonstrates that the criminal justice system is broken.

In 2010, HPD stopped 494,000 motorists, 33% of those were African Americans, while the city’s overall African American population is only 23%.  Hispanics make up 44% of the city’s population but accounted for 33% of the HPD stops.  Whites accounted for 30% of the HPD traffic stops.

Professor Clete Snell, chairman of the criminal justice system at the University of Houston believes that the number is disproportionate because “police tend to patrol more frequently in African-American neighborhoods, and in minority neighborhoods in general, and tend to make more stops in minority neighborhoods,” he told the Houston Chronicle.

Racial profiling and protecting citizens are two different realities.  If we needed to go a step further beyond this HPD analysis to the Texas criminal justice system, I am positive that the numbers compared to population and actual prisoners would reflect the reality that black people are targeted at rates far beyond whites.

According to a Justice Policy Institute Study, African American men are incarcerated at a rate of five times that of whites in Texas.  In Texas prisons, African American men (66,300) outnumber White men (40,800), according to a Justice Policy Institute Study.