Disparities in Prison Populations

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DISPARITIES IN PRISON POPULATIONS Although we would like to believe the world is not as racially charged in 2013 as it was in the 1960s, a look in our penal system would show that minorities are still arrested and incarcerated at a higher rate than whites. The United States has experienced a rise in its prison population over the last 40 years and our incarceration rate is nearly 5 times higher than any other country. Even though 13% of the US population are African American males, they make up 38% of the prison population. Contributing factors to these numbers are mandatory minimum sentences, high crime and poverty areas, and lack of rehabilitative resources within our system (p.77-78). In the 1980s, the United States started a campaign to reduce to the use and sale of illegal drugs and this increased the numbers of those arrested, convicted, and incarcerated. William J. Stuntz (2013) argues, “mandatory minimum sentences, longer sentences for nonviolent first-time offenders, and “three strikes” laws mandating increased penalties for repeat offenders have all contributed to this increase” (p.380). Also, the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 abolished parole for federal inmates and modified how much time inmates could earn for good behavior. Inmates incarcerated after November 1, 1987 are not eligible for parole. These practices lead to limited abilities to reduce our prison population numbers. The type of drug offenses range from misdemeanor offenses of being under the influence of illicit drugs to felony offenses such as possession/transportation or sale of illicit drugs. The prisons become overpopulated with more nonviolent offenders with the current laws. Another contributing factor to the increased number of minori... ... middle of paper ... ... REFERENCES Conyers, Jr., J. (2013). The Incarceration Explosion. Yale Law & Policy Review, 377-387. Heimer, K., Johnson, K. R., Lang, J. B., Rengifo, A. F., Stemen, D. (2012). Race and Women’s Imprisonment: Poverty, African American Presence, and Social Welfare. J Quant Criminol, 219-244. Johnson, O. C. A., (2007). Disparity Rules. Columbia Law Review, 374-425. Retrieved from EBSCO Publishing. Nicosia, N., MacDonald, J. M., & Arkes, J. (2013). Disparities in Criminal Court Referrals to Drug Treatment and Prison for Minority Men. American Journal of Public Health, 103 (6), e77-e84. Retrieved from EBSCO Publishing. Noisette, L. (n.d.). Reducing Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System. Retrieved from www.sentencingproject.org. Milligan, S. (2013). Equality in the Justice System. U. S. News Digital Weekly, 5(34), 5. Retrieved from EBSCO Publishing.

In this essay, the author

  • Opines that the lack of rehabilitative resources in the criminal justice system leads to repeat offenders.
  • Explains that in the 1980s, the u.s. had an increase in crack cocaine and meth shortly after that.
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