Thisresearch paper will conduct a desktop research using online andoffline sources to collect predominantly quantitative data fromsecondary sources that include online journals, reports, and books.Subsequently, it will summarize the key statistics and findingswithin the scholarly works that are relevant to the racial problemwithin the prison system.
Accordingto Mauer (2011), the United States contains just five percent of thetotal global population, yet it holds a quarter of all the inmates inthe world. The problem is worse for African American individuals.Mauer states that there were 100,000 black people in prison in theyear 1954. However, by the year 2011, the number of African Americansin prison facilities stood at slightly over 900,000. Haug (2012)attributes these figures to the successive retrogressive policies inhistory that have placed minority groups in the US at a disadvantage.The author cites policies such as the Jim Crow Laws and the adversereaction by conservative lawmakers towards the civil rights movementas well as President Reagan`s war on drugs as some of the factorsthat have led to mass incarceration of minorities.
Clear,Cole, and Reisig (2015), indicate that a similar problem existswithin the juvenile system where black children have a fourfoldprobability of ending up in prison when compared to their whitecounterparts. Additionally, the problem extends further to the otherminority groups. For example, Hispanic teens have a 61 percent riskof being incarcerated. To understand the problem one has to look atthe total Unites States Population. Minority groups such as AfricanAmericans and Hispanics make up just 25 percent of the total USpopulation. However, in prison, these two groups add up to form 58percent of all the inmates.
Researchby Slater and Fink (2012) shows that if the proportion of Blacks andHispanics in prison were equal to that of white people, the overallprison population would decline by over 50 percent. Anotherinvestigation by Rhodes, Kling, Luallen, and Dyous (2015) shows thatthe number of Caucasian people who admitted to using illicitsubstances was seven times higher than that of blacks. Surprisingly,the rate at which African Americans are sent to prison by judges forthe use of drugs is ten times greater than that of their Caucasiancounterparts. According to a 2016 report by the US Council ofEconomic Advisers, federal and state governments are spending 260dollars per inmate which represents a 70 percent increase in a spanof twenty years. Further, the report notes that 11 states hadinvested more money in jails than in schools.
Relevanceof Scholarly Works
Recentrace-fueled mass protests in US towns such as Ferguson and Charlottehighlight the reality of the sentiments held by minority groups.These groups feel as if the criminal justice system is skewed in away that targets them. The data collected within this research paperaims at justifying the claims held by such groups. Studies by Haug(2012) and Mauer (2011) provide a historical perspective of the raceproblem within the American prison system since the problem is not arecent one. Subsequently, Clear et al. (2015) show that the problemis not endemic to adult prisons. Rather, it affects juvenile prisonsas well.
Also,similar to Slater and Fink (2012) the study Clear et al. points outthe composition of minority groups within incarceration facilities.This information allows this research to make a comparative analysisof the racial problem. Additionally, Rhodes et al. highlight thesupposed bias that exists within the judiciary system that results inthe sentencing of more black people than whites for the same types ofcrime. Lastly, the report by the US Council of Economic Advisersshows that the various US governments spend a lot of money toincarcerate people. At times more money than they spend on importantsocial programs like education.
Clear,T. R., Cole, G. F., and Reisig, M. D. (2015). Americancorrections.Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Councilof Economic Advisers (U.S.),. (2016). Economicperspectives on incarceration and the criminal justice system.Washington, DC: Executive Office of the President, Council ofEconomic Advisers.
Haug,N. C. (2012). Raceand the criminal justice system: A study of racial bias and racialinjustice.B.A. California Polytechnic State University. Retrieved fromhttp://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1104&context=socssp
Mauer,M. (2011). Addressing Racial Disparities in Incarceration. ThePrison Journal,91(3Suppl), 87S-101S. Retrieved fromhttp://sentencingproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Addressing-Racial-Disparities-in-Incarceration.pdf
Rhodes,W., Kling, R., Luallen, J., and Dyuous, C. (2015) FederalSentencing Disparity: 2005–2012. Cambridge,MA: Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved fromhttps://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fsd0512.pdf
Slater,L. K., and Finck, K. R. (2012). Socialwork practice and the law.New York: Springer.