Racial disparities in mass incarceration
Mass Incarceration in the United States has been a large topic of choice because rapid growth in the prison and jail populations, the long sentences the inmates face, and the inability for some inmates to incorporate themselves back into society. Since the 1970’s the U.S. prison population quadrupled from 158 to 635 people per 100,000, causing the U.S. to gain the title of country with the highest incarceration rate. (Massoglia, Firebaugh, & Warner, 2013, p. 142; Muller, 2012) As the growth of the U.S prison and jail population rapidly increased, so did the growth of the three major contributors to that population – African Americans, Hispanics, and whites – with African American and …show more content…
Muller’s study found that though the number of African American incarceration increased after the 1970’s, one of the causes of the rise that contributed to roughly thirty percent of the African American incarceration came about long before during the initial migration of many African Americans to the North between 1880 and 1950. The migration was related to the rise in African American incarceration in that the African Americans who migrated from the South were migrating from a comparatively low nonwhite incarceration rate to the comparatively high nonwhite incarceration rate that was in the North. Though the migration had a direct effect on the increase of incarcerations of the African American population, it did not cause a rise in the number of white incarcerations, thus causing a rise in racial disparity in prisons and jails before mass incarceration was established.
An additional study that Muller conducted was related to the number of foreign whites being incarcerated or joined as a part of a state’s police force and their relationship with the African Americans incarceration rate. Mullers findings suggest that as African American migrants started appearing in the
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Bobo, Lawrence, Thompson, Victor 2011. “Racialized Mass Incarceration” Pp 225.-230 in Rethinking the Color Line, 5th Edition, edited by Charles Gallagher. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
The incarceration rates have grown tremendously since the last time someone can remember. The largest jailer in the world is the United States. Philadelphia, however, has the nation’s highest incarceration rates. Surprisingly, 60% of them are still awaiting trial but 72% of them are black. Research has show’s that mass incarceration rates goes hand in hand with segregated cities.
Mass incarceration became a public policy issue in the United States in the early 2010s. Now in 2016, there is still much debate over the country’s incarcerated population and incarceration rate. The nation has the highest incarcerated population in the world, with 2,217,947 inmates, in front of China with 1,649,804. America incarcerates 693 inmates per 100,000 residents, only the African island nation Seychelles incarcerates at a higher rate, with 799 for every 100,000 residents. The problem of mass incarceration continues to be assessed in various contexts. Recent analyses are historian Elizabeth Hinton’s From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime, legal scholar Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, and criminologist Dr. Elizabeth Brown’s “Toward Refining the Criminology of Mass Incarceration: Group-Based Trajectories of U.S. States, 1977—2010.”
The vast societal effects from mass incarceration have caused an increasingly alienated population to form in the U.S., which can be broadly classified in the dual areas of lasting effects and impacts to the family unit. First, the lasting effects of high incarceration rates are that they impact the rights of the convict, particularly African Americans. For example, noted civil rights attorney Michelle Alexander posits that the long term effects of mass incarceration operate to deny black Americans the future right to volte, the ability to obtain public benefits, the possibility to sit on juries, and ultimately the opportunity to secure gainful employment (Steiker, 2011), Moreover, professor Alexander argues that this mass incarceration together with the prior Jim Crow laws and the past practice of slaery in the U.S. operate to ensure that black Americans remain s subordinate class of citizens defined primarily by their race (Steiker, 2011).
In today’s society, discrimination is an issue that is considered to be a thing of the past. In a country with such diversity it is hard to believe that people living in the “land of the free” face issues of racism. This paper will focus specifically on the social problem of mass incarceration of minority groups and how the criminal justice system targets these groups. Although this social problem can be linked to specifically African Americans, the impacts of mass incarceration can be felt by almost everyone. I have chosen three articles that focus on how the criminal justice system is masking mass imprisonment a major problem in minority communities.
In his book “Punishment and Inequality in America” Western discusses the underlying racial disparities that have lead to a mass incarceration in the United States. He states that incarceration rates have increased by a substantial amount. The race and class disparities viewed in impromesment are very large and class disparities have grown by a dramatic amount. In his book he argues that an increase in mass incarceration occured due to a significant increase in crime. The increase in mass incarceration can also be correlated with urban street crime that proliferated as joblessness in inner-city communities increased (Western, 2006). He also states that an increase in incarceration rates may be due to the changes in politics and policy which have intensified criminal punishment even though criminal offending did not increase. Although these are substantial reasons as to why incarceration has increased significantly in the US there are many underlying issues. The incarceration rates amongst young black men have increased the most in the United states, black men are more likely to go to prison than white and Hispanic men (Western, 2006). This may be largely due to factors such as unemployment, family instability, and neighborhood disorder which combine to produce especially high rates of violence among young black men in the United States (Western, 2006). A rise in incarceration rates may also be largely due to to increased drug arrests which represent the racial disparity.
Mass incarceration became a public policy issue in the United States in the 2000s. Now in 2016, there are still many questions about America’s incarceration rate, 698 prisoners per 100,000 people, which is only surpassed by Seychelle’s at 868 for every 100,000. They concern the phenomenon’s beginning, purpose, development, and essentially resolution. In her book published this year, assistant professor of history and African and African-American studies at Harvard Elizabeth Hinton challenges popular belief that mass incarceration originated from Reagan’s War on Drugs. Mass incarceration’s function as a modern racial caste system is discussed in a 2010 book by Michelle Alexander, an associate professor of law at Ohio State University, civil
The past quarter century has seen an enormous growth in the American incarceration rate. Importantly, some scholars have suggested that the rate of prison growth has little to do with the theme of crime itself, but it is the end result of particular U.S. policy choices. Clear (2007) posits that "these policy choices have had well-defined implications for the way prison populations have come to replicate a concentrated occurrence among specified subgroups in the United States population in particular young black men from deprived communities" (p. 49).
Mass incarceration is the racial caste system which has resulted in millions of African Americans imprisoned. Much of black men in urban areas are incumbered with criminal records which deprives them of basic human rights; such as: the right to vote and serve on juries, and the right to be free of legal discrimination. Convicted felons are subject to forms of discrimination eerily like slavery and Jim Crow practices. Truly, the United States criminal justice system functions as a racial formation, where it mainly focuses on the socio-historical process by which racial categories are inhabited. Ultimately, the nation has been reluctant to face the racial formation society abides by.
Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness goes into great detail on race related issues that were specific to black males, the mass incarceration, and how that lead to the development of institutionalized racism in the United States. She compares the Jim Crow with recent phenomenon of mass incarceration and points out that the mass incarceration is a network of laws, policies, customs and institutions that have been working together to warrant the subordinating status of black males. In this paper I will go into a brief examination of the range of issues that she mentions in her book that are surrounding the mass incarceration of black male populations.
“The United States imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the height of apartheid. In Washington, D.C., our nation’s capitol, it is estimated that three out of four young black men (and nearly all those in the poorest neighborhoods) can expect to serve time in prison” (Alexander, 2012). The numbers tell the story better than words can: black people are more likely to go to prison than any other race in the United States, shown by the fact that more than 60% of the prison population is composed of people of color (The Sentencing Project, 2016). These statistics can be traced back to several different cause, including the Era of Jim Crow and the War on Drugs, both of which led to higher policing in minority areas.
Incarceration rates are a definite proof that racial discrimination occurs. “Incarceration rates in the United States have risen sharply since 1980”, stated Filip Spagnoli, “the racial distribution of inmates in the U.S. is highly negative for black Americans. Whereas they only make up 12% of the total U.S. population, they represent more than 40% of inmates”
Although the African American jail population today is nowhere near as large as it was in the 1800’s, it is still disproportionately disadvantaging African Americans along with other racial minorities. Not only are the incarceration rates unjust, but they are the largest in the world, despite a decline in violent crime for the past few decades (Lofstrom and Raphael, 2016).
In the final decades of the twentieth century, there was a surge in prison inmate numbers, described as “hyper-incarceration” (Nuno, 1). Of those incarcerated, many were minorities. Now, one in three males born to African Americans will have been in jail at
“those who are incarcerated in the US prisons come largely from the most disadvantaged people of the population that is mainly minority men under the age of 40, the poorly educated and often carry additional deficits of drug addiction or mental illness. By the time incarceration rates began to grow in the early 1970s America passed through a period of social and political change Decades of rising crime accompanied by a period of intense political conflict