Starting back in the 1700s in America, the juvenile justice system was punitive and unjust. Children as young as 8 were treated as adults and sent to do hard labor. In contrast, from the 1800s to the 1950s, social reformers were more focused on teen’s rehabilitation. Then in the 1980s and 1990s, there was yet another shift in thinking. During those decades, the number of teens who committed terrible crimes has increased a lot.
Also, 53% of the inmates in state prison are there because of violent crime. This leads me to believe that what really needs to be addressed is violence and drugs. Although violence is hard to control, there is something being done about the drug epidemic that is increasingly growing. The United States’ drug epidemic is much more intense compared to other countries, including developed and non-developed countries. Something else that the United States does that is different worldwide is the “three-strikes rule.”
“ We are not moving nearly fast enough to reduce incarceration… Over 2 million Americans live caged… a 550 percent increase in the last 40 years. ” Most of the people in the world are in jail. Therefore , incarceration is not lowering due to people being imprisoned on a daily basis. Half of the people in the world commit very bad crimes , which lead them to be imprisoned.
Mass incarceration is the way that the United States has locked up millions of people over the last forty years using unnecessary and disproportionate policies. Contrary to popular belief, this is racially fueled as most of these policies saw to it that blacks and latinos be locked up for longer than their white peers and for smaller crimes. These racist roots within the system can be traced back to when the first slave ship arrived in the US. But our first major prison boom was seen after the American Civil war. I know that the Civil War was far more than forty years ago.
Homelessness is a crisis across America which the government has overlooked. Unfortunately, 12% of Americans are considered homeless; on any night there about 554,000 people experiencing homelessness in the United States (Day). Homelessness is an issue that is apparent throughout many societies around the world, although it seems to be an exceptional struggle in the United States. Among the top homeless cities in the world, New York City ranks the second highest on the list, with Los Angeles following at a close third. Other American cities in the high ranks include Boston, Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Phoenix.
The Commission Report on Attica said that “Attica State Prison in New York was to be the solution to the recent problem of prison uprisings and the response to the commission that investigated them. ”(Slade) It is ironic that the prison that had the largest riot in U.S. history was actually forty years prior made to solve the riot and disturbance issue within the New York Prison system. In the summer of 1971, the state prison in Attica, New York, was ready to explode with 2,243 inmates, well over their maximum capacity of 2,000. 1,232 of the inmates were black, 845 white, 154 Puerto Ricans, and 12 inmates of mixed or other descent (Slade).
An example of criminal code violations in which it is apparent inequity in sentencing is the “war on drugs.” This so called war on drugs is a campaign to prohibit drugs, military aid, and military intervention, with the goal of reducing illegal drug trade. Since this war on drugs the nation has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people in prisons and jails for drugs offenses. In 1980, 40,000 people were either waiting trial or serving time for a drug related offense that number has increased to around 500,000 in today’s time (American Bar Association). The problem which arose with this drug war was the disproportionate law enforcement presence in African American communities.
Unfortunately, there are racial disparities in the United States in the legal system. Prison sentences imposed on African American males in the federal system are nearly 20 percent longer than white males convicted of similar crimes. The 1994 Crime Bill signed by President Clinton established mandatory minimum sentences. African American and Latino offenders sentenced in state and federal courts face greater odds of incarceration than white offenders who are in similar situations and receive longer sentences than whites in some jurisdictions. Research has shown that race plays a significant role in determination on which homicide cases resulted in death sentences.
In the last thirty years, incarceration rates have skyrocketed to four times of that in 1980, with 1 in every 31 adults being under some form of correctional control. (“Criminal Justice Fact Sheet”) The US now houses 25% of the world’s prisoners, despite containing only 5% of the world’s population. (Khalek) Many factors have contributed to this sharp increase in incarcerations, including zero-tolerance policies, and the school-to-prison pipeline and the War on Drugs (“Criminal Justice Fact Sheet”). However, the largest contributors are the prison industrial complex, which targets and criminalizes minority groups, and the dependence of for-profit prisons on inmate count and prison labor.
While the courts were ensuring that the Bill of Rights applied to young people as well as adults, juvenile crime was rising in America, making it a serious national problem. Between 1960 and 1973, juvenile arrests for violent offenses and other crimes rose by 144 percent (Roth, 2011). Youth 18 and younger accounted for 45 percent of the arrests for serious crime and 23 percent of arrests for violent crimes (Jones and Krisberg, 1994). Burglaries and auto theft were found to be committed overwhelmingly by minors (Jones and Krisberg, 1994). The peak age for arrests for violent crime was discovered to be 18, and the peak age for property crime was 16 (Jones and Krisberg, 1994).
This new law caused an increase from an estimated 300,000 to 2 million prison inmates over the course of the last two decades. (Michelle Alexander, 2010) According to Rebecca C. Hatey and Jennifer L. Eberhdt of Stanford University, California holds only 7% of African American population but 45% of California’s prison inmates are African American under the three strikes law. (Racial Disparities in Incarceration Increase Acceptance of Punitive Policies 2014) Michelle Alexander writes that the mass incarceration of the 1990’s created a new “racial caste system” and extreme funding for the criminal system.
More than 2,500 cases were investigated between 2008 and 2010, according to the U.S. Justice Department, and the number of victims could be as high as 17,500. Since Texas has become a hub for the commercial sex industry and has a major highways for drug traffickers a quarter of all U.S. human trafficking cases stem in Texas. Gov. Rick Perry signed legislation in 2011 to set stricter penalties for those convicted of human trafficking; the bill also mandated four hours of human trafficking training for law enforcement. Forty two other states have introduced similar legislation since 2004, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Incarceration rates in the United States are extremely higher than other countries. According to Schlesinger in her article “The Failure of Race Neutral Policies: How Mandatory Terms and Sentencing Enhancements Contribute to Mass Racialized Incarceration” there are, “Currently, one and a half million people are incarcerated in either state or federal prisons” (Schlesinger). This number is very high compared to other countries. A large majority of the people incarcerated are African Americans.
Introduction Since the War on drugs began American has had a prison problem. The goal of this era and the tough on crime era that proceeded it the goal was to be tough on crime in order to stop it. This meant mass incarceration and hard time for offenses such as drug use (drug policy: facts). The 1990’s saw the biggest increase of the prison population with federal policies such as three strikes. Today these polices has made America the number incarcerated group in the planet despite having only 5% of the world’s population (ACLU: Prison Facts).
The initial thinking behind the creation of minimum mandatory sentences was created by congress to aim in the capture and imprisonment of high level drug traffickers, and deter others from entering into drug trafficking or using illegal substances, which would create a safer society. However, the nation prison has been expanded with low level street drug dealers, and the accessibility to illegal drugs is more obtainable then before the enactment of the mandatory sentencing act. In fact, the number of drug offenders in federal prisons has increased 21 times since 1980. Contrary to what congress has believed in the past about the dangers of crack cocaine compared to that in powder form has been proven to be untrue, but little has been done to reduce the number of prisons affected by that belief.