Racial Disparity in the Correctional Population

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Racial Disparity in the Correctional Population Racial disparity in the correctional population refers to the difference in the number of minorities versus whites represented inside institutions. “The American Correctional Association acknowledges that racial disparity exists within adult and juvenile detention and correctional systems. This contributes to the perception of unfairness and injustice in the justice system ("ACA Policies and," 2004).” “Blacks comprise 13% of the national population, but 30% of people arrested, 41% of people in jail, and 49% of those in prison. Nationwide, blacks are incarcerated at 8.2 times the rate of whites (Human Rights Watch, 2000).” This difference in proportionality does not necessarily involve direct discrimination; it can be explained by a number of combined factors. Correctional agencies do not control the number of minorities who enter their facilities. Therefore, the disparity must come from decisions made earlier in the criminal justice process. Law enforcement, court pre-sentencing policies and procedures, and sentencing all have a direct affect on the overrepresentation of minorities in the correctional population. The prospect of a racially discriminatory process violates the ideals of equal treatment under law under which the system is premised (Kansal, 2005). Law enforcement, as the frontline of the criminal justice system has a great deal to do with who ends up being incarcerated. Law enforcement personnel are the initiating beings who start the path to incarceration for individuals they come in contact with. Their decision in terms of making a stop, making a report, making an arrest and so on determines if and how that individual will enter the criminal justice system. One discriminating practice used by police officers is racial profiling. This is the police practice of stopping, questioning, and searching potential criminal suspects in vehicles or on the street based solely on their racial appearance (Human Rights Watch, 2000). This type of profiling has contributed to racially disproportionate drug arrests, as well as, arrests for other crimes. It makes sense that the more individuals police stop, question and search, the more people they will find with reason for arrest. So, if the majority of these types of stop and frisk searches are done on a certain race then it makes sense that tha... ... middle of paper ... ...ecommendations to reach this goal are to establish accreditations for law enforcement, increase the data collection, and continue to diversify the workplace, and reform court procedures and sentencing guidelines. References Civilrights.org. (2002, April 13). Justice on trial. Washington, DC: Leadership Conference on Civil Rights/Leadership Conference on Civil RightsEducation Fund. Retrieved April 12, 2005, from Civilrights.org Web site: http://www.civilrights.org/publications/reports/cj/ Kansal, T. (2005). In M. Mauer (Ed.), Racial disparity in sentencing: A review of the literature. Washington, DC: The Sentencing Project. Retrieved April 12, 2005, from The Sentenceing Project Web site: http://www.sentencingproject.org/pdfs/disparity.pdf Human Rights Watch. (2000, May). United States Punishment and Prejudice: Racial Disparities in the War on Drugs (Vol.12, No.2 (G)). New York: Human Rights Watch. Retrieved April 12, 2005, from Human Rights Watch Web site: http://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/usa/Rcedrg00-01.htm ACA Policies and Resolutions. (2004, October). Corrections Today, 66(6). Retrieved April 12, 2005, from EBSCOhost Web site: http://web9.epnet.com/citation.asp?tb

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