The United States is a multi ethnic, multi racial society. It is majorly comprised of the Hispanic, African-American, Native American and Asian people. Since the country was founded, racism has been a major issue. An insidious problem it is because there is a battle about which race is more superior of inferior than the other. Racism has been primarily steered by the Whites majority directing it against the other ethnic and racial minorities. According to history, the white have always shown disparities that are of racial nature when it comes to employment housing, and criminal justice.
Racial disparity refers to is an action that may or may not have a relation to discrimination. Criminal justice experts differentiate between extralegal and legal factors so as to make an explanation of criminal justice racial disparities. From research, it has been discovered that there are several reasons for these disparities. Extra legal disparities comprise of race, gender and sex. These factors are quite illegitimate since decisions that are made are based not on criminal behavior but group membership.
One racial discrimination type arise from the fact that there exists a significant difference between percentage of the ethnic groups representation in the overall population and the same group’s percentage represented in the justice process at any given time. For example, (12 %) of the US population is comprised of African American but this group accounts for40% of the total arrests, (50%) death row inmates and (50%) of the total prison population. Another racial disparity type is vivid anytime there are a larger number of people from the minority group being involved in the criminal justice system than the whites. Another example is when there are more than 9% African American men in jail or on parole compared to (2%) of the white adult males. What exhibits this disparity clearly is the fact that blacks are four times more likely to get arrested according to drug charges despite the fact that both groups use the same drugs almost in an equal proportion.
Racial disparities are explained in three ways. Firstly, Hispanics and African-Americans are involved in crime differentially i.e. it said that they commit more crimes. Their criminality is associated to the belief that these people are affected by unemployment and poverty. Secondly, disparities are a result of individual police officers, defense attorneys, prosecutors, parole officers, probation officers, judges, and parole board members’ bigotry. The said individual racism is embedded in discriminatory behavior and prejudicial belief of sole criminal justice authorities against blacks among other minority groups. Thirdly, the disparity can fall in institutional racism- takes place any time there are classifications, statutes and practices that contain an unequal impact on the minority races.
Since time immemorial, it has been proven that the American Criminal Justice System really discriminated against the US minorities. There was an emergence of several caste systems that fated people’s lives. Those people in the upper class had to highly benefit from the then form of class typecasting by the consideration of “members of the majority.” For many centuries, this term has been in use so as to marginalize minorities. Moreover, the marginalization is more prominent in criminal justice matters and has imposed heavily on non-whites. The proposed bills and legal document wording have come in handy to primarily disenfranchise minorities with the help of statutes and criminal justice legislation. For example, the drug laws enactment has provide an easy to recognize form of such type of disenfranchising of Hispanics and African Americans in the U.S. Just like other many laws, the base legislation has emerged to emerge from certain advocacy or trade groups e.g. the American Exchange Council (ALEC) that helped in the writing and passing of hundreds of criminal justice laws of similar kind.
Sourcing from the US Bureau of Justice Statistics, it is shown that the US African-American people’s chances of being imprisoned in their lifetime lies between (28%-32%). Shockingly, the probability of being imprisoned is greater in Hispanics i.e. (6%) whereas the probability of imprisonment is less than (6%) among the whites.
Though people from all ethnicities are affected by incarnation, the US minorities are more severely affected as opposed to their white counterparts. Taking into consideration of the acute increase in the number of inmates in prisons at federal and state levels impacting a larger percentage on Hispanics and Blacks, the factors for the increase in the population in prisons are of special interest. For many years, incarcerated Black males comprise of the largest proportion of the incarcerated population. However, the gap between the Hispanic and Black males is narrowing just because of the immigration laws.
The incarceration cost upon minorities is felt nationwide due to the fact that the state makes very difficult choices on the budget expenditure. Politicians seem to be joyful about the increase in the incarceration mass since the collection of incarceration fee is paid through tax dollars. Owing to the fact that the majority of those being incarcerated are the Hispanics and the African American, it means a high cost paid for our populations’ segregation through imprisonment and race in the new millennium.
Analysts and experts have tried to discuss on the different factors’ relative importance that have led to disparities of this kind. Defendants of the minority origin often get charged with crimes that require compulsory minimum prison sentence hence leading to larger incarceration racial disparities.
Towards the 2005 the Bureau of Justice gave out data that indicated that for every 100,000 black males in America, there were 3,042 prisoners of black ethnicity. On the other hand, there were 1,261 Hispanic male prisoners for every 100,000 Hispanic males and 487 prisoners of white ethnicity per 100,000 whites. It has been argued that once someone has been born in a certain race, he has already been subjected to some substantial effect on the discrimination amount one expects in their lifetime and it is worse if the same person happens to fall in the minority class. This being the factor, the extent to which one has studied or the environment within which someone was raised really impacts very much on how one is treated in the criminal justice courts.
However, a good number of studies showed that there has been reduced disparity in white versus black conviction. Especially in the largest counties, prosecution rates for blacks were slightly less than that of the whites. Actually, it is said that the only disparity that was detected was to the advantage of the blacks not to their disadvantage.
There is an extensive disparity between races when Death row is concerned. The federal penalty death data that was given out by the United States Department of Justice (1995-200S0) showed that there was a sentence of 682 defendants to death. Out of these 682 defendants, 485 were Black; Hispanics were (29%) while the whites were (20%).
The United States has the highest featured prison population that is four times more than the Western Europe prison population. The US legislation in the 1980s issued several drug laws that had stiffer penalties ranging from drug trafficking to drug possession. Those charged with drug associated crimes were seen into longer sentences in prison and minimal leniency during trial. The War on drugs has further increased the population in prison though violent crime is registering a continuous steady decrease.
Many US urban areas have their majority population being black. These places register high crime rates accompanied by prevalent drugs. This is an implication that many blacks will end up in prison since the law enforcement is always concentrated at the scene of high drug and violent crime. The US government with the emergent drug legislation has made an increase in social control incarceration that has in turn impacted sharply and disproportionately on African Americans.
According to statistics, if a black drops out of school, the chances of going to prison are (32.4%). In whites and Hispanics the chances of a dropout going to prison are (6.7%) and (6%) respectively. Becky Petit and Bruce Western applied the age cohort example that came up during the Great Depression period. They learnt to attach value to economic security owing to the acute rise in unemployment the onset of the 1930s. Due to this, the men delayed their fatherhood and marriage so as to establish themselves in accordance to the economic security so that they could provide for their families and hence became the greatest generation in America.
In the latter portion of the 20th century, the age cohorts born around this time seldom experienced major lifetime events like the great depression. Due to this, they underestimated their societal roles, a factor that led to less educated people especially among the minority population. Scanty education in urbanized areas impacted negative influence upon the children who grew up in the situation. Children whose parents were in prison got easily influenced by older children in the other neighborhoods. They hence indulged into violent crime and drugs that saw them into joining gangs and follow the exact paths taken by their incarcerated neighbors.
Violent crimes were on the rise in the 20th century-a situation that sent shockwaves through weak neighborhoods and families. Owing to the fact that majority of the incarcerated people were the minority and those who belonged to a lower class, their families had to cope with extraordinary situations. Broken families lead to single parentage hence increasing the amount of children who also engaged in crime and got jailed earlier than most. Children from single parentage had less supervision and their encouragement and performance in education depended on their self determination. This resulted to a society that was somewhat damaged since many kids grew up in crime ridden neighborhoods witnessing their neighbors go to jail. It is complimentary that when a family member is arrested, the family does not only lose the individual’s income but also have to incur additional costs.
Studies have come with a finding that the prison acts the responsibility of a punitive system in which mass incarceration has become the answer to societal problems. It was discovered that prison conditions have an impact on the behavioral alteration that results from prolonged institutionalization. It was concluded that causes impairment of the inmates’ social life through criminality exacerbation or impairment of their capacity for normal social interaction. Furthermore, racial imprisonment disparity especially with African Americans really places them in political subordination by eliminating their positive societal connection
Poorer neighborhoods register increased rates of incarceration since people have resorted to crime for survival since employment opportunities are on the decline. Another disparity shown in inmates is that black inmates earn (10%) less than the whites in the ex-inmates post incarceration.
The above mentioned disparities have denied the people of color their primary civil rights. This has made criminal-justice reform an issue to be addressed. There is a presence of initiatives aimed at addressing racial disparities e.g. the collaborative local reforms.
United States. Dept. of Justice. (2008). Bureau of Justice Statistics: Prison Statistics. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Justice.
Stephan Thernstrom; Abigail Thernstrom (2011-03-29). America in black and white: one nation indivisible. (p. 273).
Bobo, Lawrence D., Victor Thompson. (2006). Unfair By Design: The War on Drugs, Race, and the Legitimacy of the Criminal Justice System. Social Research 73: 445-472