Mass Incarceration Research

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Mass incarceration is a phenomenon described by Ta Nehisi-Coates as a way to explain the increase in incarcerated people in the United States over the past 40 years. This phenomenon can be traced back most obviously to the early 70s, when Nixon started his presidential term (DRUGPOLICY.ORG). Nixon came into presidency when the rebellious 60s were starting to really pose a threat to the government of the United States. His two main enemies were the major proponents of revolution: liberals against the violence of Vietnam and black people (DRUGPOLICY.ORG). He understood that these groups, but especially the poor black communities, depended on black market drug trade for a lot of their income and therefore found an extremely effective way to quell…show more content…
It is argued that the incarcerated state of blacks is the 4th stage of racial oppression (6E p. 330). If one looks at the War on Drugs from a purely legal based level one can see a disproportionate amount of the policies being made to affect black communities and livelihoods. Statistically the amount of illegal drug users that are black versus white is not much (9.2% black versus 8.1% white) but the amount of arrests in the black community is 34% even though they only have 14% of regular drug users on average (6E p. 333). Even the sentencing laws were in favor of white citizens; in 1986 Congress passed a law that required a 100 to 1 ratio for the trafficking or possession of crack cocaine to that of powder cocaine. This law was disadvantageous for black people because they were much more likely to have crack due to economic and political factors (Elsner p. 20). This meant that having only 5 grams of crack in one 's possession meant a minimum of five years jail time while having 500 grams of powder cocaine equaled the same amount of jail time (WIKIPEDIA). This law along with pre-existing racial prejudice made it that black people are incarcerated at a rate ten times higher than whites (5D). This was observed by a sociologist Katherine Beckett and her research team in…show more content…
The education children receive in predominantly black neighborhoods is often sub-par, with high dropout rates. Subsequently 65% of state inmates have not completed high school. Another major issue is job opportunities; in major cities with a high black population the ability to obtain and keep a decent paying job is difficult and therefore crime is one of the only solutions. More than 50% of inmates earned less than $10,000 a year, were unemployed, or part time (8E p. 17). The close correlation between black Americans and crime is explained as

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