Incarceration and Racial Disparities 2010

CMTY111 M-W 3:30
“Incarceration” Defined:
 Incarceration is the state of being imprisoned or
 Incarceration can be imposed if the nature of a crime
is that in which the suspect must be held against his
will by the government, while they are awaiting trial.
 Incarceration is given, by a judge, as part of a sentence
in a court of law, and its length depends on the severity
and nature of the crime.
Different Facilities for Incarceration:
 State prisons and local jails for adults convicted in
state courts.
 Federal prisons for persons convicted in federal courts.
 Various types of residential institutions (for example,
training schools) for juveniles found delinquent in
juvenile courts.
Just the Facts:
 The United States has nearly 2,000 separate prison
 The United States currently has nearly 2.6 million
inmates residing in federal and state facilities.
 The United States leads the world in inmates per
capita, at 748 per every 100,000 citizens, or nearly 1%
of the total population.
Famous United States Facilities:
Louisiana State Penitentiary – 5,218 Inmates
San Quentin State Prison – 5,127 Inmates (634 on Death Row)
An overview of the U.S. Population
in 2010
U.S. Prison Population:
Along Ethnic Lines:
 Blacks have the highest
ratio of life sentences per
 Blacks have the highest
ratio of “three time
offender” convictions per
 1 in 8 Black men will
spend time in prison.
Along Ethnic Lines:
 Hispanics are convicted
at a ratio of 2 to 1 when
compared to whites.
 Hispanics are the largest
growing ethnicity is
regards to Federal
But for the White Population…
 Only 1 in 23 Whites will
spend any time in prison.
 Convictions of whites are
repealed (reversed) at a
rate of almost 5 to 1
compared to blacks, and
almost 3 to 1 compared to
History of Incarceration Rates in
the United States:
Changes in the trend:
 The 1970’s and 1980’s brought a change in political and
judicial policy.
 The Federal Government, in response to the growing
threats of drugs, enacted two major forms of
legislation that are still prevalent in today’s society.
Effects of Policy Change:
Basics of the new Policies:
 1971 – The War on Drugs
 At a press conference, President Nixon states that he
believes drug abuse is “public enemy number one”.
Basics of the new Policies:
 1973 – The Establishment of the DEA (Drug
Enforcement Agency)
 The DEA is a Federal agency, that works with state and
local law enforcement to monitor, arrest, and assist in
the conviction of persons violating drug laws.
Basics of the new Policies:
 1984 – The Sentencing
Reform Act
 Enacted into law a set of
minimum mandatory
sentences for many drug
related convictions.
 Took away federal and state
judges authority to analyze
mitigating and extenuating
circumstances, and apply
those findings into the
Basics of the new Policies:
 1984 – The Sentencing
Reform Act
 Crack Cocaine vs.
Powder Cocaine
 Adjusts the legality of
different amounts of
possession and their
subsequent sentences.
Searching for an Explanation:
 Mounting effects of
oppression and
 Lack of access to good,
solid education.
 Vicious cycle of
discrimination and lack
of opportunity.
Educational Discrimination:
 While schools are no longer
officially segregated,
injustices in the quality and
location of housing predetermine the quality of
inner city schools.
 College degrees are
increasing at a rate of
almost 2 to 1 when
comparing between Whites
and Blacks.
Occupational Over/Under
 Blacks are under-
represented in regards to
managerial and
professional jobs.
 Blacks are overrepresented in lowerpaying blue collar jobs,
and service labor work.
 The unemployment rate
for blacks in 2006 was
more than twice the rate
of white unemployment.
Housing Discrimination:
 Blacks are disproportionately
confined to inner city
 Blacks are more likely to live
in sub-standard public
housing than any other
 Inner city and poorly funded
urban areas have higher
crime rates, and subsequent
targeting by police forces.
How the Cycle Works:
Lack of Quality Education
Lack of Career Prospects
Lower Paying Jobs
Life of Crime/Reliance on Welfare
Limited Ability to Find/Afford Adequate Housing
Other Speculations:
 Black Identity
Development (Tatum).
 Black teens attempt to
create an identity within
their peer group.
 Black teens reject things
that seem “white”.
 Black teens search to
associate with cultural
Reversing the Trend:
A Success Story
 Urban Prep (Englewood
Academy) – Chicago, IL
 All Black male, public school.
 Founded in 2006, when the
freshman class had 4% of its
students reading at a 9th grade
 Stresses basic principles of
integrity, accountability, and
Reversing the Trend:
A Success Story
 2010
 Urban Prep
graduates all of 107 of
it’s seniors.
 All of the 107 seniors
are accepted to over 72
colleges and
universities around
the nation.
 Laws have been shaped in the United States to be in
favor of promoting the welfare of the majority.
Blacks are chronically disadvantaged in nearly all
aspects of valued resources within a society.
Negative stereotypes of minorities in help produce
unequal distribution of resources.
Unequal distribution of resources cyclically leads to
lack of opportunity.
 In the eyes of the U.S. Judicial System, a person is
accountable for their individual actions.
 The idea that the color of your skin, or the
neighborhood you grew up in, predisposed you to
commit a crime…doesn’t cut it.
 The best way to stay out of prison or jail, no matter the
color of your skin or the location of your housing or
school is…
 Don’t commit a crime.
 Tatum, B. (1997) Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting
Together in the Cafeteria? New York: Basic Books
 Aguirre A. & Turner J.(2009) American Ethnicity: The
Dynamics and Consequences of Discrimination (6th Ed.).
New York: McGraw-Hill.

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