Monday, April 18, 2016

The Color of Incarceration

The Color of Incarceration:
The Injustice that I am very interested in discussing are the Disparities that face African American men in the american criminal justice system. As there are many aspects of the justice system that can be considered an injustice towards African American men, I will be specifically talk about the major disparities in the sentencing of African American men in comparison to their European American male counterparts. The reason I have chosen this topic is due to personal experiences as I have seen male peers and family alike given sentences that do not match with the crimes committed. At the same time through research and study I have seen lessened sentences given for similar or even more egregious crimes. This being said I feel as if this is an injustice that needs to be examined and later eradicated.
The United States of America has a population of 322.5 Million (2016) and is constantly growing every day as many people immigrate and many are born. Even though this is a daunting number to some it only accounts for 5 percent of the total global population. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are 2.2 million people (2015) that are currently imprisoned whether on a federal or state level. This number of prisoners constitutes for 25 percent of the total global prison population. Out of this number 60 percent of those imprisoned are now racial or ethnic minorities.  The group getting hit the hardest by this statistics are African American males who account for approximately 37 percent of the previous statistic, while only account for less than 10 percent of the US population .
A study done by the sentencing project has shown that on any given day 1 in 10 African American men in their 30’s are incarcerated. Outside of that statistic 1 in 3 African American men has a lifetime likelihood of imprisonment, this is in stark contrast to their European American counterparts who have a 1 in 17 chance. These statistics stem from the harsher sentencing process that are handed down, which lead to longer prison sentences for African American men.These lengthened stints in jail In another study done by the Sentencing Project, evidence has been uncovered of racial discrimination against minority defendants. Evidence of this discrimination has been found on both a federal and state level. It has also been found that young African American men are sentenced more severely than comparably-situated European American men.
There are several factors that lead to the higher severity in sentence for African American men. Many of these factors are out of their control, such as the fact that there is a higher likelihood of imprisonment pending trial, which usually leads to harsher sentences. This pattern of sentencing is extensively seen in drug cases whether they be low-level or high level, where African Americans are given sentences that at times are 20 percent longer. A great example of this can be seen by contrasting the war on drugs during the 80’s and the current war on drug. In the 80’s the primarily black drug users were incarcerated for long periods, with little to no likelihood of treatment. This contrasts the war on drugs today as many of those who are caught are European American and are given treatment rather than incarceration.
In light of this Injustice many organizations have risen to fight for justice for African American men. Organizations such as: (The Sentencing Project, The Innocence Project, The Justice Project, and The Justice Policy Initiative) have been founded to right many of the wrongs made by the american criminal justice system. However you do not need to be part of this organization to make a difference. One can write letters to state officials asking for disputed cases to be reevaluated due to the possibility of new evidence. You can also write to local attorneys asking if they would volunteer their service pro-bono in order to help inmates look their cases in order to get a change in their sentence.

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