Racial Disparity in Prisons

Topics: Prison, White people, Race and Ethnicity Pages: 4 (1468 words) Published: November 2, 2011
A Look at Racial Disparity in the United States Prison System Micah O’Daniel
Institutional Corrections

Racial inequality in the American criminal justice system has a strong effect of many realms of society such as the family life, and employment. Education and race seem to be the most decisive factors when deciding who goes to jail and what age cohort has the greatest percentage chance of incarceration. Going to prison no longer affects just the individual who committed the crime. Instead, the family and community left behind gain a new burden by one individual's actions. The United States still has a large disparity between Whites and Blacks and now a growing Hispanic population. This racial disparity in the educational system, job sector, and neighborhoods have all contributed to the booming prison population in the latter part of the 20th century which has only continued to widen in the 21st century.

At the end of 2006, the Bureau of Justice released data that stated that there were 3,042 black male prisoners per 100,000 black males in the United States, compared to 1,261 Hispanic male prisoners per 100,000 Hispanic males, and 487 white male prisoners per 100,000 white males (USDOJ, 2008).

The likelihood of black males going to prison in their lifetime is 16% compared to 2% of white males and 9% of Hispanic males (USDOJ, 2008). Other social factors can be linked to the racial inequality in the criminal justice system such as socioeconomic status, the environment in which a person was raised, and the highest educational level a person achieves. It has been argued by some that the race a person is born into has a substantial effect on the amount of discrimination they experience in their lifetime. In a sociological experiment conducted by Steven Raphael, a black male with no criminal record applying for a certain job had a 14% chance of getting a callback for an interview while a white male applying for the same job had a 34% chance of getting...

References: Ayers, Ian and Joel Waldfogel. 2005. A Market Test for Race Discrimination in Bail Setting, Stanford Law Review, 46, 987.  
Coker, Donna. 2003. “Foreword: Addressing the Real World of Racial Injustice in the Criminal Justice System.” Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, 93, 827-879.
Bobo, Lawrence D., Victor Thompson. 2006. “Unfair By Design: The War on Drugs, Race, and the Legitimacy of the Criminal Justice System.” Social Research, 73, 445-472.
Pettit, Becky, Bruce Western. 2004. “Mass Imprisonment and the Life Course: Race and Class Inequality in U.S. Incarceration.” American Sociological Review, 69, 151 169.
United States. Dept. of Justice. 2008. Bureau of Justice Statistics: Prison Statistics. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Justice.
This paper takes a detailed look at the increasing number of black people in prison and tries to decide there are more blacks in prison than there are whites or Hispanics.
It does not argue that blacks are in prison because of their race. But tries to relate it to the fact that when a large portion of a community is incarcerated that it has a ripple effect in every aspect of society. It is for this reason that there are more African Americans in prison than any other race.
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