The Race of an American Prison

Topics: African American, Prison, United States Pages: 5 (1914 words) Published: August 5, 2013
The Race of an American Prison: A Racial Disproportion
Bethany Dowdy
ENG 122
Michelle Williams
May 27, 2013

It seems that more minorities are incarcerated as opposed to the majority; looking at the facts as they stand, a person’s ethnic background really has bearings on whether he/she is incarcerated, because more than 60% of those incarcerated are of a minority background. To say that our judicial system is not biased due to race would very much be false. There have been numerous studies performed on the said topic and they all point to our judicial system having a biased nature. Our American prisons have a disparity of minority inmate population.

Racial disparity is an on-going epidemic within today’s society. This is a far larger epidemic within our judicial system than anyone wants to admit to. For years, our judicial system has incarcerated minorities such as African- Americans, Native- Americans, and Hispanics at a much higher rate than Caucasians, thus bringing racial disparity within our prison system. This brings up the question, what is racial disparity in our criminal justice system? Racial disparity in our criminal justice system can be defined as the existence of racial disproportion or an ethnic group disproportion within the control of our prison system. Some scholars and journalists say that this is due to an unfair and biased criminal justice system with particular emphasis on law enforcement and legislative policies. Between the years of 1955 – 1968, was a very important time for African-Americans in American society. There have been many changes in freedoms and fairness that took place during the civil rights movement in these years. Society would like to think that due to this movement there is little to no bias when dealing with the minorities of today’s society. However, after lots of research filled with facts and opinions, the truth of the matter is that there is still a great injustice dealing with the minorities in the judicial system. As it states in, “Racial Disparity and The Criminal Justice System: An Assessment of Courses and Responses Testimony Presented to The American Bar Association Justice Kennedy Commission”, “one of every three black males born today will go to prison in his lifetime, as will one of every six Latino males (rates of incarceration for women overall are lower than for men, but similar racial/ ethnic disparities pertain)” (Mauer, 2008). There is a question at hand as to if the reasoning behind the minority population in the prisons being so high because of higher minority crimes or is it just the way the judicial system operates? There are 2.2 million people incarcerated in the U.S., 60% of which are of the minority. That is a rate of incarceration far higher than that of any other industrialized nation, and unprecedented in U.S. history. African-Americans are targeted higher than any other race within the judicial system. African-American men specifically have a 1 in 4 chance of going to prison within their lifetime as opposed to a white male who only has a 1 in 23 chance of being incarcerated within his lifetime. According the article “The Top 10 Most Startling Facts About People of Color and Criminal Justice in the United States” (Kerby, 2012),” Eliminating the racial disparities inherent to our nation’s criminal-justice policies and practices must be at the heart of a renewed, refocused, and reenergized movement for racial justice in America.” It also states “the incarceration rates disproportionately impact men of color: 1 in every 15 African American men and 1 in every 36 Hispanic men are incarcerated in comparison to 1 in every 106 white men.” These statistics bring up the question of why there is such a disproportion within today’s prisons. Some people claim that it is because of what minorities watch on television or the music they hear on the radio. Others blame the convict’s parents. They might say that it was due to their up-bringing. However,...

References: Austin, R. L., & Allen, M. D. (2000). Racial Disparity In Arrest Rates As An Explanation Of
Racial Disparity In Commitment To Pennsylvania 's Prisons
Kamalu, N. C., Coulson-Clark, M., & Kamalu, N. M. (2010). Racial disparities in sentencing:
Implications for the criminal justice system and the African American community
Minton, Todd D., “Jail Inmates at Midyear 2011 – Statistical Tables” (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Dec. 2012), NCJ239808, p. 8.
Mauer, M. (2011). Addressing Racial Disparities In Incarceration. The Prison Journal, 91(3
Suppl), 87S- 101S
Mauer, M. (2004). Extended View: Racial Disparity And The Criminal Justice System: An
Assessment Of Causes And Responses Testimony Presented To The American Bar
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