Incarceration Trends in America
African Americans make up a curiously large portion of the incarcerated individuals in the United States. They are being incarcerated at a faster rate than those of other backgrounds such as Whites and Hispanics. Even though they make up a smaller part of the United States’ population, African Americans as well as Hispanics, comprise more than half of all prisoners in America. This is clearly a disproportionate racial composition. The factors contributing to this occurrence must be analyzed and evaluated. Perhaps this trend is inevitable due to certain conditions however; maybe these conditions can be altered. Therefore, upon investigating the causes of this incarceration trend, solutions must be made to this fix this disparity.
African Americans make up almost one million of the 2.3 million people incarcerated in America. They are being incarcerated at a rate of about six times than that of White people. Together with Hispanics, African Americans comprise approximately 58% of prisoners in the United States even though they make up only about a quarter of the United States population. If African Americans and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rate as Whites, today’s prison population would decrease by approximately fifty percent. As of 2001, one in six black males were incarcerated. If these trends continue, one in three black males born today will spend time in prison during his lifetime (King & Mauer, 2007).
The state of Wisconsin apparently has the highest percentage in the country of African American males incarcerated. More specifically, about one in eight of the black men of working age in this state are currently in state prisons. Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s biggest city appears to be the hometown to the majority of the state’s black male prison population. Due to this, there is a large population of basically unemployable men in this city, putting a drag on its economy and making it one of the poorest big cities in the U.S. It is also said that about two thirds of Milwaukee County’s incarcerated black males once resided in the city’s six poorest zip codes One third of the males incarcerated since 1990 displayed non-violent offenses while forty percent of them incarcerated since 1990 were drug offenders As drug offenses increased in the 2002-2005 time span, African American males had eleven to twelve times as many prison admissions related to drugs as White men (Demby, 2013).
The number of African American males in jail seems even more peculiar when the African American population of the U.S. is analyzed. It was calculated in 2012 that the population of African Americans in the United States was about 44.5 million. This number included African Americans of more than one race as well. This comprises approximately 14.2% of the total Unites States population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau there will be 77.4 million African Americans by the year 2060 which will comprise 18.4% of the entire U.S population (CDC, n.d.).
The unequal rate of incarceration of African American men has been well documented for some time now. Significant developments in the past two decades have been made on this topic. There are existing organizations as well as foundations researching and working to reform this condition (King & Mauer, 2007).
Perhaps the economic and employment conditions of these individuals play a role in their incarceration pattern. Inner city crime is at times prompted by social as well as economic isolation (NAACP, n.d.). From 1960 to 2000 the employment rate of black males fell quickly. The incarceration rate of black men rose significantly at the same time. A strong correlation was found between immigration, black wages, black employment rates, and finally black incarceration rates. Apparently, as immigrants took over the supply of workers in a certain skill group,...
References: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Black or African American Populations. Retrieved March 24, 2014 from http://www.cdc.gov/minorityhealth/populations/remp/black.html#Demographics
Borjas, G.J., Grogger, J, & Hanson, G.H. (2009). Immigration and the Economic Status of African-American Men. Retrieved March 29, 2014 from http://irps.ucsd.edu/assets/027/9473.pdf
Demby, G. (2013). Why Does Wisconsin Lock Up More Black Men Than Any Other State. Retrieved March 24, 2014 from http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/04/24/178817911/wisconsin-locks-up-more-of-its-black-men-than-any-other-state-study-finds
Katzen A.L. (2013). African American Men’s Health and Incarceration: Access to Care Upon Reentry and Eliminating Invisible Punishments. Berkley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice, 26. Retrieved March 29, 2014 from http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1291&context=bglj
King R. S., & Mauer, M. (2007). Uneven Justice: State Rates of Incarceration by Race and Ethnicity. The Sentencing Project Research for Advocacy for Reform. Retrieved March 24, 2014 from http://www.sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/rd_stateratesofincbyraceandethnicity.pdf
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. (n.d.). Criminal Justice Fact Sheet. Retrieved March 24, 2014 from http://www.naacp.org/pages/criminal-justice-fact-sheet
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Thompson, V. S., & Bazile, A. (n.d.). African American Attitude Toward Domestic Violence and DV Assistance. Retrieved March 29, 2014 from https://www.musc.edu/vawprevention/research/attitudesdv.shtml
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