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Topics: African American, Family, Prison Pages: 7 (2837 words) Published: December 16, 2013
People of color have been the targets of bigotry, racial discrimination, and oppression since the arrival of the early European settlers. This is evident in the mass extermination of the Native Americans and in the kidnapping and enslavement of African’s in the 1600’s. Although slavery was abolished over 100 years ago the traumatic effects of this injustice is present in today’s society. The forefathers of America built this nation with the hands of black people and despite their contribution to this country they continue to be marginalized. Even though black people have made many strides this long-standing history of oppression has persevered throughout the generations. The deep-rooted contention of inequality and injustice has infiltrated the social fabric of American society and government as black people today experience discrimination on every level. Structured discrimination has been to blame for the many disparities that black people face in America. The most obvious are the disproportionate amount of minorities in the United States Criminal Justice System. Blacks make up approximately 13% of the U.S. population, and whites 67% of the U.S. population (Census, 2009); however, of the 2.2 million incarcerated, 900,000 are Black (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2011). Typically when you think of children with a parent in prison, it's the father. When in fact African American women are the fastest growing segment of the prison population with an 828 percent increase behind bars for drug offenses between 1986 and 2010. Most of these women incarcerated are mothers. This mass incarceration strains the extended networks of family and friends used to help the African American families.

In Michelle Alexander's book "The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness" she argues that the present criminal system is just a replacement for the Jim Crow laws that had replaced slavery. Minorities such as black and Latinos have become secondhand citizens in this society which leads to a caste system formation. At some point in these life they will be incarcerated and once if ever released lose the most basic rights. At some point in their life they will be incarcerated and once if ever released lose the most basic rights. One of the most compelling arguments that Alexander raises is the incarceration for minor drug crimes becoming more common. In these minority neighborhoods a cheaper form of drugs are on the streets such as marijuana and crack cocaine. Being caught with even an ounce of any of these drugs warrant arrest and legal ramifications. Meanwhile the higher end product like pure cocaine which can only be accessed by a more wealthy clientele is ever really discussed and bought to legal actions. While most of these women are stuck in less than desirable situation such as poverty, which leads to drug use. Instead of the law being there to help and address the root of the issue which is said to be social and economic inequality, they are blamed for their circumstances and for the dip in the low child poverty rates. Most of the charges that incarcerate these women are for non violent offenses ; who need treatment for a substance abuse problems, support for their children or safety from an abusive relationship. Of the 1.7 million children with a mother is prison 70% were children of color. Incarcerating the mothers tend to upset the family ties more than incarcerating fathers because inmate mothers are usually the primary caretakers of the children before entering prison. Studies have shown that in African American families the fathers are not that involved when not in a legally committed sense such as marriage. This family dynamics plays a major role in how the child is raised and perpetuates in the child's future life and family. Since mothers are primary care takers the child's welfare falls into the hands of the state or other family members. This mass incarceration perpetuates the cycle of poverty causing...
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