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Pros And Cons Of Disparities In Criminal Justice

For a majority of the 20th century, sentencing policies had a minimal effect on social inequality (Western and Pettit 2002). In the early 1970s, this began to change when stricter sentencing policies were enacted (Western and Pettit 2002). Sentencing laws such as determinate sentencing, truth-in-sentencing, mandatory minimum sentencing, and three-strikes laws were enacted with the purpose of achieving greater consistency, certainty, and severity in sentencing (National Research Council 2014). Numerous inequalities involving race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status have generated an unprecedented rate of incarceration in America, especially among minority populations (Western and Pettit 2010). With numerous social inequalities currently…show more content…
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,…show more content…
It can be thought of as the class or social standing of an individual or a group (American Psychological Association). Class inequalities in incarceration are represented by those who have a very low educational background (Western and Pettit 2010). Many studies show a significant increase in educational inequality in incarceration due to the fact that almost all of the growth in the risk of incarceration between 1983 and 1999 was confined to men without a college education (Western, Kleykamp, and Rosenfeld 2004). Prisoners of the state average a tenth grade education and around seventy percent do not have a high school diploma (Western and Pettit 2010). Offenders overwhelmingly come from the least educated margin of society (Western and Pettit 2010). Most of the incarceration rate growth stems from young men with very low levels of education (Western and Pettit 2010). In 2008, the incarceration rate of young African American men without a high school degree had risen to thirty-seven percent (Western and Pettit 2010). This rate is even more alarming when compared to the average rate of the general population being 0.76 of 1 percent (Western and Pettit 2010). The incarceration rate among young white dropouts has grown significantly as well with around one in eight incarcerated in 2008 (Western and Pettit 2010). This notable growth in
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