U.S. Prison System and its Populations:
Whites vs. Minorities
Professor: Dr. J. Johnson
June 7, 2010
Table of Contents
Men vs. Women4
Statistics: The Who and the Why6
Black Judges vs. White Judges and Their Decisions8
What is being done to reverse this Trend10
In the prison system today, there has been an explosion of minorities being incarcerated for offenses that may not have gotten jail time if they had not been of a certain race. Although the overall numbers of incarcerations may have dropped just slightly for the first time in over 35 years, the amount of inmates remains to be a topic of concern. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, in 2003 almost 10.4 percent of black males who were between the ages of 25 to 29 were in prison compared to the rate of 2.4 percent for Hispanic males and a rate of 1.2 percent for white men. Why is there such a difference in these numbers? This paper will take a look at the growing trend. The last figures have shown that these figures have grown to 12 percent for black males, 3.7 percent for Hispanic males, and 1.6 percent for white males. This is a concern for the states that have prisons since the statistics show that by the end of 2002 most were operating at an average of 1 to 17 percent above their rated operating capacity. In 1990 the number of felony convictions in state courts was about 829,000. That number has grown to over 1,132,290 in 2006. The most current statistics (as of January 2010) have put the figure of people in state prison at about 1,404,053. Of all of the convictions that send a person to prison, the U.S. Bureau of Statistics has reported that about 69 percent of those have had prior convictions. That means that almost 20 percent of those in prison are repeat offenders. When studies were done asking the general public what reasons they thought were why people were in prison, the most popular answer given was that it was attributed to them being poor and growing up in crime ridden neighborhoods.
Men vs. Women
Statistics compiled by Project America have shown that the number of White male, Black male and Hispanic males has changed little in the years from 2000 to 2007. Those same numbers in White females, Black females, and Hispanic females has also had little changes. Per 100,000 residents in each group, the Black males have had the greatest percentage of people in prison with around 3,250 in 2000. That compared to around 400 for White males and 1,400 for Hispanic males during the same time period. These figures for women are much lower by comparison. In 2000, White woman were incarcerated at the rate of about 75, compared to around 250 for Black women, and about 100 for Hispanic women. These figures in 2007 were relatively the same. The following chart gives a breakdown of the data for the consecutive years from 2000 to 2007 by men and women and their perspective races.
The States: The Who and the Why
While many of the states have had increases, there are several of the states that have seen decreases in the number of incarcerations in recent years. That figure has been an overall increase of about 708 percent increase from 1972 to 2008. But in the past 12 months, that overall figure has been dropping by about 0.3 percent. The leading states with declines in prison population are Rhode Island, which had a decline of 9.2 percent, Michigan (6.7 percent), New Hampshire (6.0 percent), and Mississippi which saw a 5.4 percent drop in prison population. On the other end of the spectrum, several states have seen increases in the number of inmates in the state prisons. These states are led by Indiana which had a 5.3 percent increase, Vermont (5.0 percent), Pennsylvania (4.3 percent), and Alaska, which had an increase of 3.8 percent. While there is no one particular reason for the...