Crime in Virginia — the Statistics of Race and their Causes

by James C. Sherlock

Crime, especially violent crime, is a constant topic in private conversations and in public politics, and thus here on Bacon’s Rebellion.

Comments on BR crime-related articles turn quickly to race, often without basis in fact.

I will offer below the actual crime statistics by race from 2021, the latest available year, in an attempt to cure that.

Then I will write about the causes.

I will almost certainly be called a racist.

First the population statistics.

Population of Virginia – Census Bureau – 2021

The following charts are from the latest statewide crime report, “Crime in Virginia 2021,” published  by the Data Analysis and Reporting Team of the Virginia Department of State Police.

Violent Crime – 2021- by race and sex

“White” in these charts correlates with “white alone, percent” in Census Bureau statistics. Same correlation exists between “Black and Black or African American Alone” in the census numbers and “Black or African American” below.



All crimes arrests 2021 – by race

Those are the numbers.

Black persons, who are 20% of the population, were offenders in 57% of the violent crimes in the commonwealth in 2021. Murder arrests totaled 381 statewide in 2021. Seventy four percent of those arrested were Black.

The biggest lesson is that both Black families and society simply have to do a better job of raising, educating, and mentoring Black youth. That has to happen in their homes, communities and schools.

The crime data reflect a multi-generational culture of child neglect, drugs and violence in high-density poor Black communities.

The crime drives away from these communities the very necessities of modern life — grocers, pharmacies, doctors.

Many talk about the decline of community policing as one cause. That is certainly a factor.

But few want to talk about some of the other elephants in the room:

  • the low cost housing shortage that blocks dispersion of the Black poor into better neighborhoods;
  • progressive- and minority-led school boards and schools who refuse to acknowledge failure, the first step in any change;
  • the declining influence of Black churches; and
  • recent progressive changes to the criminal justice system in many Black cities and Black concentrations in suburbs.

Housing. Many Black families have not been able to escape unsafe homes and communities, even though society has been at least officially trying to replace government project housing with Section 8 independent housing since 1974 and by doing so to eliminate ghettos.

The housing and redevelopment agencies in high crime cities have both oversupplies of city-owned buildings seized for taxes and huge waitlists of people who have applied for Section 8 housing. But they have proven chronically unable to turn their buildings surplus into low-cost housing.

Zoning, controlled by city councils and county boards, has played a huge part, as have city inspections skipped and repairs poorly and expensively done in government housing.

There is no evidence of momentum, or the will, to do better. Even in Black-run cities.

Schools. Now many Virginia schools reject for their students the notion of personal responsibility as an artifact of Western civilization, which they used to teach as a blessing and some now present as evil.

As Ian Rowe observed in The Wall Street Journal early in the summer of 2020:

The idea that only whites can undo ‘structural racism’ sends young blacks a message of powerlessness.

Progressive-run schools emphasize that message by simultaneously seeking equal outcomes and trying to hide evidence of lack of equal outcomes (SOLs, College Boards) to cover up the damage.

Progressives who run the school divisions in Virginia cities join with adjoining progressive-run suburban school divisions in refusing to consider inter-division open enrollment. There is a word for that, but it is overused.

The worst-performing school divisions refuse to invite charter-management organizations who have proven successful in educating poor urban kids to their areas to provide better schools. Because the adults on the school boards take care of the adults in school systems, not the kids.

It is telling that they feel no need to explain themselves.

Black Christian Churches. Black churches have lost much of their congregations and along with them their once-defining influence in the Black community, much to the detriment of the community as a whole.

Black churches have long embraced a conservative Christian theology. That theology emphasized personal responsibility and the concepts of sin and redemption. Nearly all still preach that human actions and thus sins are subject to the free decision of the human moral will

But Pew Research reported in 2021:

younger Black adults are much less engaged in Black churches than are older generations. Millennials and members of Generation Z are more likely to be religiously unaffiliated, and they are less likely than those in older cohorts to have grown up attending a Black church.

And even young adults who do attend religious services are less likely to do so at a Black church than are older Black Americans.

Decline in religion is a key part of the missing upbringing of the failed human beings — too many are criminals, alcoholics and drug addicts — among whom children in too many Black communities must try to play, grow and live.

The Criminal Justice System. We know who, exactly, is most disproportionately hurt by progressive prosecutors releasing too many career criminals back into their communities too often.

The statistics above tell us.

It is Black communities. Black persons are three and a half times as likely to be victims of violent crime as whites. They have a right to think, “why us?”

Progressive criminal justice “reforms,” like their school reforms, hurt most the people they claim to be trying to help.

The inevitable one-size-fits-all charge. The same adults who have failed their communities’ minority children attempt to silence those who insist on change with charges of racism.

They hold institutions they themselves run — cities, housing and redevelopment agencies, schools, police departments, everything – to be guilty of systemic racism.

Exhausted by overuse, racism charges have lost their power.

Only the damaged lives remain.

Bottom line. Virginia’s progressive criminal justice and school laws and regulations represent the worst public policies for Black communities since Jim Crow. The Democratic governor and General Assembly aggressively made things far worse in both policy areas in 2020 and 2021.

Now Progressives, who disproportionately reject the U.S. Constitution, including especially the Bill of Rights, and the traditions of Western civilization, want to double down on their attempts to destroy both.

They hold the Virginia budget hostage to their demands.

Tragically, many Black officeholders at state and local levels, most living well out of sight of the victims of their mistakes, ignore the plight of their communities’ own children.

Talking about it is not enough.

So we turned here to police blotters to survey the destruction.

These statistics reflect a leading tragedy of our times — Black lives lost to crime, both as offenders and victims. And the children who watch it happen and walk among the debris.