Racial Ineqaulity in the Prison System
A report from the Department of Justice issued on September 12, 2000, acknowledged that in the past five years, lawyers proposed to sentence 183 offenders to death, 20 percent of them were whites, nearly half of them were blacks, around 30 percent were Latin Americans and the rest of were other minorities.
Racial Segregation in the United States Prison Systems essays.
Collectively, Figures 1-5 prove that incarceration, and especially the incarceration of black men, is a growing problem in the United States. The male prison population has multiplied from 1920 to 2010. Most of this expansion occurred in the past half century, rising from 319,500 male prisoners in 1970 to 1,260,868 in 2010. Figure 1 illustrates that incarceration follows an increasingly racial pattern. In 1920, 35.2% of male prisoners were black, although they only made up 9.2% of the male population. In 2010, 53.6% of male prisoners were black, although they only made up 10.4% of the male population. The overrepresentation of black men in America’s prisons suggests that the US criminal justice system has a history of discriminating against this subset of the population.
The mass incarceration of black men is the result of an historically embedded racial caste system in American political, cultural, and social institutions that can be traced back to slavery. Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th points out that because white-dominated society depended on free black labor for economic prosperity during slavery, white elites had to find a new institution through which to exploit the black work force when slavery was abolished. That institution was mass incarceration. Although the 13th amendment abolished slavery, it made an exception for the punishment of crime. As a result, blacks were incarcerated at extreme rates and then taken advantage of for free labor. “Black criminality” was constructed as a convention for the unfair roundup, political control, and treatment of African Americans (DuVernay 2016). Alexander Michelle’s book The New Jim Crow suggests that black criminality and institutional racism still exist and are illustrated through the incarceration trends we see today. Black imprisonment is merely a changing of the rules, so that white society can legally oppress black men for political, social, and economic domination (Alexander 2010).
In some other states the prison systems are already desegregated.
Figure 5 illustrates that the proportion of black men in prison of the total black male population has risen in all states since 1920, increasing remarkably from 1980 through 2000. The Southern states have slightly lower proportions of their black men in jail in from 1980 to 2010. A few states in the Midwest–Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin Kansas, and Wyoming–rank high in this statistic from 1980 to 2010.
Residential segregation in the United States - Revolvy
Apprehension about crime and punishment carried over into the Bush and Clinton Administrations. President Clinton’s 1994 Violent Crime Control Act increased federal spending on policemen and investigative lawyers, imposed tougher prison sentences, and opened new prisons (Gottschalk 2006). Once again, these policies materialized in the huge increase in prison populations in from 1990 to 2000 in Figures 1, 4, and 5. Today, around half of all federal inmates are in prison for drug convictions, attributed to the anti-drug policies of the 70s, 80s, and 90s (The Sentencing Project).
Race, Segregation, and Incarceration in the States, …
These federal influences set the conditions for the expansion of the carceral state across the nation. As we can see in Figures 4 and 5, federal policy and political elites had an important impact on incarceration trends in the states. Racialized drug policies that unfairly target black men exacerbated the disparity between black and white male incarceration rates to worsen across the states over time, visible in Figures 3 and 4. The proportion of black male prisoners increased by 17% in just 30 years, from 1970 to 2000. However, together, Figures 2, 3, 4, and 5 show that these trends were not distributed evenly on state and regional levels. They suggest that incarceration rates are dependent on geographic factors, such as segregation and local and regional racism.
Racial segregation in the United States ..
Figure 3 shows that the proportion of black men of the total male prison population has varied geographically at different points in time, but that it has increased in general across the United States from 1920 to 2010. The Rust Belt has consistently had a large proportion of black inmates, and this proportion was especially large in 1980 and 1990. Proportions increased in the South from 1960 to 1980 and then decreased. Midwest and West proportions have increased over time.