Report: Racial inequities persist in Greater Lansing — especially in East Lansing

Prosecutor: Reported offenses shows ‘disproportionate impact on the Black population’ in 2020

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(This story was updated at 3:59 p.m.)

THURSDAY, Feb. 11 — An Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office report shows that police requested criminal charges against Black people at significantly higher rates than white people across Greater Lansing in 2020. And in some areas, Black residents were about 10 times more likely to have criminal activity alleged against them with the Ingham County Prosecutor's office, the report shows. 

“There are continued inequities even as mass incarceration is being addressed,” officials wrote in the report, released Tuesday. “The continued disproportionate impact on African-American residents is a major concern for the prosecutor’s office in our ongoing work.”

Here are some quick takeaways from the report which is the first to track these statistics:

  • Across Ingham County, Black people were about five times more likely than white people to have police request criminal charges against them in 2020. Black residents accounted for 40% of those reported offenses yet only about 12% of the population, according to the latest U.S. Census figures.
  • That disparity was at its worst in East Lansing, where its cops sought charges with the county prosecutor's office against Black people about ten times more frequently than white people in 2020. About 40% of reported criminal offenses from there involved Black defendants, who accounted for only about 7% of the city population.
  • Cops in Lansing — the most diverse city in Ingham County — were about three times more likely to push charges on Black suspects than white suspects. Just over half of last year’s reported offenses there involved Black people, while U.S. Census figures show only about  22% of the city’s population is Black. 
  • Black people were about six times more likely than white people to have charges requested against them across the rest of the county, which included smaller cities and villages like Mason, Webberville, Dansville, Onondaga and other more rural areas.

Here are some quick statistics from the report:

Ingham County (Total)

Total population: 292,406

Total offenses reported: 6,893

Black population: 36,258 (12.4%)

Black offenses reported: 2,733 (40%)

White population: 221,058 (75.6%)

White offenses reported: 3,429 (50%)

Lansing

Total population: 118,210

Total offenses reported: 3,709

Black population: 27,543 (23.3%)

Black offenses reported: 1,879 (51%)

White population: 72,108 (61%)

White offenses reported: 1,436 (39%)

East Lansing

Total population: 48,145

Total offenses reported: 496

Black population: 3,274 (6.8%)

Black offenses reported: 197 (40%)

White population: 36,542 (75.9%)

White offenses reported: 233 (47%)

Ingham County (Rural)

Total population: 126,051

Total offenses reported: 2,698

Black population: 6,302 (5%)

Black offenses reported: 634 (23%)

White population: 112,408 (89.2%)

Criminal offenses reported: 1,764 (65%)

And here are those same statistics, calculated as a  rate per 100,000 residents:

Ingham County (Total)

Black — 7,537

White — 1,551

Lansing

Black — 6,822

White — 1,991

East Lansing

Black — 6,017

White — 637

Ingham County (Rural)

Black — 10,060

White — 1,569

The report also touted a reduction in the overall number of inmates sentenced from Ingham County cases — including a 27% reduction in prison sentences over the last three years. With no significant change to the county’s crime rate during that period, prosecutors credit the trend to a series of ongoing reforms to the county’s criminal charging, plea and sentencing practices.

“However, we have not seen any change to the racial demographic proportions of reported offenses in Ingham County,” according to the report. “The proportionate figures by race have been nearly identical for years, and each year they point to racial disparaities."

Editor's note: This story has corrected following a subsequent clarification to the provided data. The racial disparities tracked in the report are based on reported criminal offenses, not subsequent criminal charges. Only about 70-75% of reported offenses lead to charges. The data also does not include offenses reported and prosecuted by city and township attorneys within Ingham County.

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