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.
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criminal justice system. If the current trends persist, one out of every three African American men can expect to go to prison over the course of his life, as can one out of every six Latino males, compared to only one in seventeen white males (Bonczar 2003). For females, the figures are significantly lower, but racial and ethnic disparities are very similar. For instance, one out of every eighteen African American females can expect to go to prison, as can one out of every 45 Latino females, and one out of every one-hundred and eleven white females (Bonczar 2003). The racial disparities in imprisonment have been felt the most by young African American males (Western and Pettit 2010). Males are a significant majority of the prison and jail populations, accounting for around ninety percent of the population (Western and Pettit 2010). Racial disparities in incarceration are astounding when one counts the men who have been incarcerated in their lifetime rather than those serving time on any given day (Western and Pettit 2002). For instance, in 1989, approximately two percent of white men in their early thirties had been in prison compared to thirteen percent of African American men in their early thirties (Western and Pettit 2002). These extreme racial disparities disproportionately affect communities of color and have significant collateral effects such as family stress and dissolution,
In The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander introduces readers to the phenomenon of mass incarceration in the United States and challenges readers to view the crisis as the “ the most pressing racial justice issue of our time.” In the introduction, Alexander writes “what the book is intended to do and that is to stimulate much needed conversation about the role of the criminal justice system in creating and perpetuating racial hierarchy in the United States.” We come to understand, How the United States create criminal justice system and maintain racial hierarchy through mass incarceration? How the current system of mass incarceration in the United States mirrors earlier systems of racialized
Mandatory minimums for controlled substances were first implemented in the 1980s as a countermeasure for the hysteria that surrounded drugs in the era (“A Brief History,” 2014). The common belief was that stiff penalties discouraged people from using drugs and enhanced public safety (“A Brief History,” 2014). That theory, however, was proven false and rather than less illegal drug activity, there are simply more people incarcerated. Studies show that over half of federal prisoners currently incarcerated are there on drug charges, a 116 percent percentage rise since 1970 (Miles, 2014). Mass incarceration is an ever growing issue in the United States and is the result of policies that support the large scale use of imprisonment on
Throughout the semester, we have discussed many different issues that are currently prevalent in the United States, specifically those related to racial discrimination. One specific issue that I have developed interest and research in is that of institutionalized racism, specifically in the form of mass incarceration, and what kinds of effects mass incarceration has on a community. In this paper, I will briefly examine a range of issues surrounding the mass incarceration of black and Latino males, the development of a racial undercaste because of rising incarceration rates, women and children’s involvement and roles they attain in the era of mass incarceration, and the economic importance that the prison system has due to its development.
The majority of prisoners incarcerated in America are non-violent offenders. This is due mainly to mandatory minimum sentencing laws, which is a method of prosecution that gives offenders a set amount of prison time for a crime they commit if it falls under one of these laws, regardless of their individual case analysis. These laws began in the 1980s, when the use of illegal drugs was hitting an all time high (Conyers 379). The United States began enacting legislature that called for minimum sentencing in an effort to combat this “war on drugs.” Many of these laws give long sentences to first time offenders (Conyers). The “three strikes” law states that people convicted of drug crimes on three separate occasions can face life in prison. These laws were passed for political gain, as the American public was swept into the belief that the laws would do nothing other than help end the rampant drug crimes in the country. The laws are still in effect today, and have not succeeded to discourage people from using drugs. Almost fifty percent...
This research essay discusses racial disparities in the sentencing policies and process, which is one of the major factors contributing to the current overrepresentation of minorities in the judicial system, further threatening the African American and Latino communities. This is also evident from the fact that Blacks are almost 7 times more likely to be incarcerated than are Whites (Kartz, 2000). The argument presented in the essay is that how the laws that have been established for sentencing tend to target the people of color more and therefore their chances of ending up on prison are higher than the whites. The essay further goes on to talk about the judges and the prosecutors who due to different factors, tend to make their decisions
Race and Ethnicity on Sentence Outcomes Under Different Sentencing Systems. Crime & Delinquency, 59(1), 87-114.
The past quarter century of American history has been profoundly impacted by the “war on drugs.” Ever since the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 was passed by President Richard Nixon, the number of yearly incarcerations for drug violations has grown exponentially. America’s drug policies have cost billions of dollars and imprisoned hundreds of thousands of Americans, yet rates of drug, property, and violent crime have failed to decrease. Yassaman Saadatmand summates the consequences of Nixon’s policies: “Not only has the drug war failed to reduce violent and property crime, but it has also shifted criminal justice resources (the police, courts, prisons, probation officers, etc.) away from directly fighting violent and property crime.” The issue is further complicated by racial inequalities in the rates of drug use and crime. Whereas Whites consist the majority of the population of any state, they are outnumbered by African-Americans in both state and federal prisons (E. Ann Carson 2013). This incongruity is paralleled with many other races, such as an overrepresentation of Native Americans and an underrepresentation of Asians in rates of drug use. What causes this imbalance? What purpose do the higher rates of incarceration for certain minorities serve? As this topic is explored, it becomes evident that the racial disparity in drug crime is perpetuated by America’s legacy of bigotry and racism, capitalism, and a cycle of poverty.
Although some say the high disparity of minority to white prison sentences is due to repeat offenses by second and third time offenders, the disparity in the population between black and white Americans in the U.S. doesn't support the fact there are more minorities than whites in American prisons. The make- up of judges, juries and law enforcement officials in the judicial system are a factor. The high disparity amongst minorities in prison is due to the societal issues such as racial discrimination, racial inequality of lawmakers in the court system, and presumptive sentencing guidelines.
According to statistics since the early 1970’s there has been a 500% increase in the number of people being incarcerated with an average total of 2.2 million people behind bars. The increase in rate of people being incarcerated has also brought about an increasingly disproportionate racial composition. The jails and prisons have a high rate of African Americans incarcerated with an average of 900,000 out of the 2.2 million incarcerateed being African American. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics 1 in 6 African American males has been incarcerated at some point in time as of the year 2001. In theory if this trend continues it is estimated that about 1 in 3 black males being born can be expected to spend time in prison and some point in his life. One in nine African American males between the ages of 25 and 29 are currently incarcerated. Although the rate of imprisonment for women is considerably lower than males African American women are incarc...
In the United States, the rate of incarceration has increased shockingly over the past few years. In 2008, it was said that one in 100 U.S. adults were behind bars, meaning more than 2.3 million people. Even more surprising than this high rate is the fact that African Americans have been disproportionately incarcerated, especially low-income and lowly educated blacks. This is racialized mass incarceration. There are a few reasons why racialized mass incarceration occurs and how it negatively affects poor black communities.
The definition of mass incarceration is a term used by social activists to describe the significant increase in the number of incarcerated people in United States ' prisons over the past forty years, from 1970 to 2005 the number of inmates has risen 700%. Lawrence (2011) has stated that more than 2.3 million people in America are in jail or prison and sixty percent are African American and Latino. In this paper, I will present information on mass incarceration of black males, the development of a racial injustice due to rising of incarceration rates, and the financial standing that the prison system has, due to its massive expansion.
The most problematic conclusion about Mass Incarceration, whatever the causes or practices, is that currently America has had the highest national prison rates in the world; furthermore, the rates of minorities (particularly African Americans) are extraordinarily disproportionate to the rates of incarcerated Caucasians. Despite the overall rise in incarceration rates since the 1980s, the crime rates have not been reduced as would be expected. Researchers, activists, and politicians alike are now taking a closer look at Mass Incarceration and how it affects society on a larger scale. The purpose of this paper is to examine the anatomy of Mass Incarceration for a better understanding of its importance as a dominant social issue and its ultimate relation to practice of social work. More specifically the populations affected by mass incarceration and the consequences implacable to social justice. The context of historical perspectives on mass incarceration will be analyzed as well as insight to the current social welfare policies on the
The majority of our prison population is made up of African Americans of low social and economic classes, who come from low income houses and have low levels of education. The chapter also discusses the amount of money the United States loses yearly due to white collar crime as compared to the cost of violent crime. Another main point was the factors that make it more likely for a poor person to be incarcerated, such as the difficulty they would have in accessing adequate legal counsel and their inability to pay bail. This chapter addresses the inequality of sentencing in regards to race, it supplies us with NCVS data that shows less than one-fourth of assailants are perceived as black even though they are arrested at a much higher rate. In addition to African Americans being more likely to be charged with a crime, they are also more likely to receive harsher punishments for the same crimes- which can be seen in the crack/cocaine disparities. These harsher punishments are also shown in the higher rates of African Americans sentenced to
The War on Drugs in the United States has a profound influence on both the incarceration rates and activities of the criminal justice system. Many politicians and advocates of the policy claim that the War on Drugs is a necessary element to deter criminal behavior and reduce the crime rate. However, studies show that drug deterrent policies on possession and use have been inadequate and unsuccessful (Cole & Gertz, 2013). Studies also show that the War on Drugs has not attained its objectives because the policy exhibits racial discrepancy as it has led to the disproportionate incarceration of Blacks and minorities. Specifically, evidence indicates that the upper class, generally White individuals, is more likely to use powered cocaine while the lower class, generally Blacks and minorities, is more likely to use crack cocaine, but discrepancy exists between the sentencing and punishment for the two forms of cocaine (Cole & Gertz, 2013). Before the Obama Administration passed the Fair Sentencing Act in August of 2012, which reduced the sentencing discrepancy between powered cocaine and crack cocaine to 18 to one, the original sentencing disparity was 100 to one (Davis, 2011). Although recent policies have reduced the population of drug offenders in prison, the War on Drugs has affected the substantial and disproportional increase in incarceration rates and prison populations of Blacks and minorities for drug offenses.