Over the past 40 years U.S. incarceration has grown at an extraordinary rate, with the United States’ prison population increasing from 320,000 inmates in 1980 to nearly 2.3 million inmates in 2013. The growth in prison population is in part due to society’s shift toward tough on crime policies including determinate sentencing, truth-in-sentencing laws, and mandatory minimums. These tough on crime policies resulted in more individuals committing less serious crimes being sentenced to serve time and longer prison sentences. The 1970s-1980s: The War on Drugs and Changes in Sentencing Policy Incarceration rates did rise above 140 persons imprisoned per 100,000 of the population until the mid 1970s. Since the mid 1970s, there have been …show more content…
The steep increase in incarceration rates during these years coincides with the Reagan administration’s enhancement of Nixon’s War on Drugs through the Anti- Drug Abuse Act of 1986. One key part of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act is the mandatory minimum sentencing laws for drugs offenses including discrepancies in sentencing between cocaine and crack cocaine. The version of the Anti Drug Abuse Act passed in 1988 provided monetary incentives for police agencies to implement the war on drugs through the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Program (Byrne Program). These Byrne Program grants, along with civil forfeiture laws passed in 1984 that allowed police agencies to share in drug related assets, provided substantial resources and motivation for state and local law enforcement to focus on the drug …show more content…
The prison population is overwhelmingly male and disproportionately minority. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 25% of state prisoners are white, 38% are black and 21% are Hispanic, revealing a degree of disproportion when compared to the general population where 62% are white, 13% are black and 17% are Hispanic. Racial disparity with regards to imprisonment has been a feature of the prison system from decades yet this disparity has increased over time. African Americans today are incarcerated in state prisons at a rate that is 5.1 times the imprisonment of whites. African Americans comprise 31% of individuals arrested for drug violations. In eleven states, at least 1 in 20 black adults are in prison. Research shows that prosecutors are twice as likely to pursue a mandatory minimum sentence for black people as for white people charged with the same crime. One in nine black children and one in 38 Latino children have an incarcerated parent, compared to one in 57 white children. Higher rates of incarceration in minority communities have lead to the destruction of the family
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Due to the unprecedented expansion of the war on drugs by the Reagan administration started a long period of skyrocketing rates of incarceration. The huge number of offenders incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenders increased from 50,000 to 1980 to over 400,000 by the year 1997. In 1981, Nancy Reagan began a highly publicized antidrug campaign called “Just Say No”, as public concerns arose due to the portrayals by the media about people addicted to a smoke-able form of cocaine dubbed as “crack”. This campaign set the stage for zero tolerance policies implemented in the late 1980’s.
69% of African Americans were convicted. 84% of state attorneys were white and 74% of judges were also white. The Cook County jail is the largest jail in the nation, housing around ten thousand inmates. “The vast majority, 67.3 percent, of those admitted to the jail are young African American males between the ages of twenty-one and thirty from Chicago’s South Side and West Side— creating a perversely convenient arrangement whereby the jail is closest to its target population.” (Van Cleve. 19).
The state has also cut plans for drug treatment.”. This is corroborated on a federal level by the percentage of federal anti-drug budget for prevention and treatment from 1970 to 2000. This data shows that when Reagan took office in 1981, funding for drug-use prevention and treatment plummeted from 57% to 28%, and stayed there until 1990, where it increased slightly to 32%. This data was initially published by the National Drug Control Strategy, a bipartisan government organization that's purpose is to outline the country’s efforts to reduce illicit drug use and its consequences in the United
Nonetheless, this is far from the truth. What the “War on Drugs” did accomplish, however, was mass incarceration, particularly of those in minority groups. One of the main pillars of the advocacy was the dangers of crack cocaine. Although pharmaceutically almost identical to powder cocaine, penalties against crack were dramatically more severe. “The 1986 bill created minimum sentencing laws with a 100:1 disparity between powder and crack cocaine, supported by untrue claims that crack is more dangerous and addictive…
With the economy in the turmoil that it is in America cannot continue to support these sentencing guidelines. The Mandatory Article Sentencing declares that the laws are becoming a huge drain on the Justice Bureau’s budget, and in 2012 the United States had far beyond more people incarcerated than any other country. Most of these prisoners are low-level drug offenders sentenced under mandatory sentencing guidelines with a cost draining on American taxpayers $6.8 billion a year, as of 2012. These costs do not seem to have a ceiling and continue eating up about twenty-five percent of the federal justice system’s yearly budget.
An 18 year old first time offender caught with less than two ounces of cocaine received a 10 year sentence. A 46 year old father of three who sold some of his painkillers to someone he thought was his friend, received a 25 year sentence. In 2006 37.5% of all state and federal prisoners were black. One in 33 african american men were in jail, compared to one in 205 white men and one in 79 hispanic men.
The United States has a larger percent of its population incarcerated than any other country. America is responsible for a quarter of the world’s inmates, and its incarceration rate is growing exponentially. The expense generated by these overcrowded prisons cost the country a substantial amount of money every year. While people are incarcerated for several reasons, the country’s prisons are focused on punishment rather than reform, and the result is a misguided system that fails to rehabilitate criminals or discourage crime. This literature review will discuss the ineffectiveness of the United States’ criminal justice system and how mass incarceration of non-violent offenders, racial profiling, and a high rate of recidivism has become a problem.
“African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population.” The majority group of this statistic are people who come from african american backgrounds. The fact that black people are to make up nearly half of the prison population alone, really conveys the rate at which they are being arrested. Black men are often victims of racial profiling by police. They are targeted by police officers, and security guards, and are accused of crimes unrelated to them, simply on the basis of their skin color.
The racial disparity can be accounted for through the mass incarceration of black offenders in terms of sentencing with mention of a racial caste in place, not allowing those of color to move from their position. As such, mass incarceration has led to prisons being filled with an overpopulation of those who are black than any other race. Interesting enough, it has been proven through surveys that those who are white are more likely to engage in drug crime rather than those who are black. I found this to be an interesting point to discuss as it raises the question as to just why are more people of color incarcerated at a growing rate than
Over the last thirty years, the prison population in the United States has increased more than seven-fold to over two million people, including vastly disproportionate numbers of minorities and people with little education. For some racial and educational groups, incarceration has become a depressingly regular experience, and prison culture and influence pervade their communities. Almost 60 percent of black male high school drop-outs in their early thirties have spent time in prison. In Punishment and Inequality in America, sociologist Bruce Western explores the recent era of mass incarceration and the serious social and economic consequences it has wrought.
Something will always need to be fixed in society because society is a reflection of us, and we are not perfect. Recently, there’s been many issues that have caught the attention of people living all across the world. Things such as police brutality, sexual assault in the workplace, and immigration law, just to name a few, but there’s also been an underlying issue that people are becoming more informed about, and that I believe matters - prison reform. Prison reform matters because in many instances, prisoners are treated inhumanely when they are locked up, and aren’t treated as humans when they have served their time. I believe we can bring about change in the prison system by changing the way we punish people who do commit crimes and focusing more on actual rehabilitation.
Annotated Bibliography Alexander, M. (2010). The new Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. New York: The New Press. Alexander opens up on the history of the criminal justice system, disciplinary crime policy and race in the U.S. detailing the ways in which crime policy and mass incarceration have worked together to continue the reduction and defeat of black Americans.
The Huffington Post says, “The U.S. incarcerates nearly seven times as many people, measured as a share of population, as Canada does. People of color are disproportionately represented in the American prison population and are typically punished more severely than white peers for the same crimes” (Daniel Marans). Racism against people of color has caused them to be represented poorly in society as potential criminals, especially black. MIT informs its viewers that “according to the United States census Bureau, blacks are twice as likely to be poor compared to other races, and eight times as likely to be imprisoned. Blacks are also three times more likely to be convicted of drug violations than whites.
Along with African-American/Blacks, the Hispanic population is underrepresented at both the state and federal levels while the Caucasian/White population are underrepresented (Walker, Spohn, & DeLone, 2018). This essay will discuss multiple different races and ethinicities to regard their population make up within the prison system. Although race and ethnicity relate to one another they are different. According to Walker et al. (2018), race is defined as the, “major biological divisions of mankind,” for
There are a different amount of races in prison right now. There are an estimated 717,800 men ages 18 to 29 who were incarcerated between 2010 and 2011. 37% were black and 23% were Hispanic and 25.7 % where white males. Black males are incarcerated more than any other race.