Law Forum : Racial Disparities in Punishment

Discussion in 'Law Forum - Prisons - Gun Ownership' started by Destee, Sep 21, 2007.

  1. Destee

    Destee destee.com STAFF

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    I. SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

    Since the mid 1980s, the United States has undertaken aggressive law enforcement strategies and criminal justice policies aimed at curtailing drug abuse. The costs and benefits of this national war on drugs are fiercely debated. What is not debatable, however, is its impact on black Americans. Ostensibly color blind, the war on drugs has been waged disproportionately against black Americans.


    II. THE EXTENT OF U.S. INCARCERATION

    In the year 2001, the total number of people in U.S. prisons and jails will surpass two million. The state and federal prison population has quadrupled since 1980 and the rate of incarceration relative to the nation's population has risen from 139 per 100,000 residents to 468. If these incarceration rates persist, an estimated one in twenty of America's children today will serve time in a state or federal prison during his or her lifetime.


    III. INCARCERATION AND RACE

    The disproportionate representation of black Americans in the U.S. criminal justice system is well documented. Blacks comprise 13 percent of the national population, but 30 percent of people arrested, 41 percent of people in jail, and 49 percent of those in prison. Nine percent of all black adults are under some form of correctional supervision (in jail or prison, on probation or parole), compared to two percent of white adults. One in three black men between the ages of 20 and 29 was either in jail or prison, or on parole or probation in 1995. One in ten black men in their twenties and early thirties is in prison or jail. Thirteen percent of the black adult male population has lost the right to vote because of felony disenfranchisement laws.


    IV. THE ROLE OF VIOLENT CRIME IN U.S. INCARCERATION RATES

    Contrary to popular assumption, the remarkably high and increasing rates of incarceration in the U.S. since the 1980s have not been driven by increases in the rate of violent crime. Rather, the burgeoning prison population is the result of changes in penal policies and practices and of the soaring number of drug offenders given prison sentences.


    V. THE IMPACT OF THE WAR ON DRUGS ON U.S. INCARCERATION

    Whether convicted on possession or sales charges, relatively few of the drug offender prison admissions over the past two decades have been high-profile drug traffickers, "king pins," or persons occupying high level positions within sophisticated drug dealing enterprises. Available research indicates that most incarcerated drug offenders are bit players in the drug trade, such as small-time dealers selling to customers on the streets, addicts trying to support their habit, "mules" or couriers trying to earn some extra cash, and women pressed into occasional service by drug dealing boyfriends.


    VI. RACIALLY DISPROPORTIONATE INCARCERATION OF DRUG OFFENDERS

    The impact of incarceration as a weapon in the war against drugs has fallen disproportionately on black Americans. Blacks are overrepresented in U.S. prisons relative to their proportion of the population and, as discussed below, relative to their rates of drug offending. Whites, conversely, are significantly underrepresented. Fifty-six percent of drug offenders in state prison nationwide are black. Blacks are incarcerated on drug charges at dramatically higher rates than whites and drug offenses also account for a much greater proportion of blacks sent to prison than they do for whites.

    The disproportionately high percentage of blacks among those admitted to state prison on drug charges is cause for alarm. But the disparity in the rates at which black and white men over the age of eighteen are sent to prison on drug charges is nothing short of a national scandal. The drug offender admissions rate for black men ranges from 60 to a breathtaking 1,146 per 100,000 black men (Figure 8). The white rate, in contrast, begins at 6 and rises no higher than 139 per 100,000 white men.


    VII. RACIALLY DISPROPORTIONATE DRUG ARRESTS

    The disproportionate rates at which black drug offenders are sent to prison originate in racially disproportionate rates of arrest. Contrary to public belief, the higher arrest rates of black drug offenders do not reflect higher rates of drug law violations. Whites, in fact, commit more drug crimes than blacks. But the war on drugs has been waged in ways that have had the foreseeable consequence of disproportionately targeting black drug offenders.


    VIII. WOMEN, RACE, DRUGS AND IMPRISONMENT

    Racial disparities among incarcerated women are pronounced: black women were more than eight times as likely as white to be in prison in 1997. The incarceration rates for both black and white women have increased by approximately two-thirds since 1990.


    IX. CONCLUSION

    Putting a person behind bars is so common in the United States and so frequently imposed for minor conduct that it seems the country has lost sight of just how serious a punishment imprisonment is. Short of executions, imprisonment is the most severe exercise of a government's legitimate coercive and penal powers.

    Imprisoned individuals lose their liberty, autonomy, and the unfettered exercise of most rights. Prisoners are deprived of their families, friends, jobs, and communities. Their days usually pass in unproductive idleness. Life in prison is all too often degrading, demoralizing, dehumanizing and dangerous. Inmates' health, safety, privacy, and even dignity are threatened by overcrowding and violence.


    Human Rights Watch



    :heart:

    Destee
     
  2. Destee

    Destee destee.com STAFF

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    Peace and Blessings Family,

    In light of some of the discussion going on, i thought i'd bring this thread back to the top.

    It may help some with their arguments, and enlighten others.

    Much Love and Peace.

    :heart:

    Destee
     
  3. phynxofkemet

    phynxofkemet Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Good Movie

    The Injustice System in America (2006)

    not a surprise for the awakened members of Destee, but I enjoyed listening to the statistics. Good resource

     
  4. Clyde C Coger Jr

    Clyde C Coger Jr going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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    In the Spirit of Sankofa!

    My Sisters Destee and phynxofkmt,

    After reading and watching the resources here, as well as contemplating my knowledge of this plight of our people, you sort of walk away with a feeling of hopelessness and dispair. But thanks anyway for sharing...Peace In my sister friends.

     
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