There has been a lot of discussion regarding the prison population in the United States but little efforts have been engaged in regard to the transformations observed in the composition of the jail population. The law enforcement agents are under obligation by the federal, state, and local authorities to arrest and confine individuals who are criminal suspects. It is the duty of our judicial system to imprison individuals who are crime convicts. The confinement that is imposed on individuals whether prior to or after conviction is what is referred to as incarceration.
Any person irrespective of race, color, sex, and age is subject to incarceration at least in theory according to the constitution. Studies have however continued to show increasing imbalance in our penal institutions as more African Americans and Hispanics continue to account to a slightly larger percentage in comparison to the whites. This paper shall present an analysis of the structural inequality as observed in the judicial system within the United States. Structural Inequality:
Structural inequality is something that is affecting virtually all societies around the world. This phenomenon however does not stem from the variations amongst individuals as generally thought, but it can be attributed to the meanings and values that individuals hold in regard to these variations. These values and meanings become systemized and thus the foundation of inequality in our society. The society becomes stratified based on differences between the individuals.
This leads to a hierarchical society where prejudicial values and attitudes are developed which affects the views held by the different categories of individuals (Bartels-Ellis, 2010). The US is among the world’s most leading jailers with a rating of 750 imprisonments in every 100,000 individuals (Williams, 2009). The prison population is however disproportional with African Americans and the Hispanics and other minority groups accounting for a larger percentage compared to the majority whites.
It is estimated that over 60% of the prison population is from the minority groups. The imbalance in the incarcerated population has been attributed to the war against drugs that has gained momentum in the recent past. This has had a toll on the minority groups though studies have continued to indicate that drug use is also a significant phenomenon amongst the whites. The judicial system has therefore been accused of racist discrimination when it comes to matters of fair and effective judgment (Williams, 2009). Racial Bias in the Judicial System:
Racial inequalities have been observed when it comes to judicial matters in the United States. There are great variations in the incarceration of different racial groups that make up the population of the US (Martel, 2008). Studies have continued to reveal the unending trend of disparities in the criminal justice system as revealed by the United States Census Bureau in 2000. According to the Bureau, there is un-proportional representation in the incarceration within the US penal institutions which happens to favor the whites.
As of the year 2000, out of close to 2 million adult prisoners, 63% were from the minority groups including the African Americans and Latinos. Such disparities are in contravention of the general population as it has been established that the minority groups account for only 25% of the general population (Human Rights Watch, 2002). Statistics: According to Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), in every twenty blacks aged over 18, one is likely to be in prison whereas for the whites, the imprisonment rate is put at one in every 180 individuals.
The African Americans and the Hispanics comprise of about 2/3 of the prison population. As of the year 2001, African American males and Hispanic males had a higher chance of being imprisoned compared to the whites. The blacks had a 32. 2% chance; Hispanics 17. 2% chance; whereas the whites had a 6% chance. In the year 2003, African American prisoners accounted for a larger portion of those serving a term of more than one year at 44% of the prison population followed by the whites at 35% whereas the Hispanics accounted for the remaining 19% (Families Against Mandatory Minimums Foundation, 2010).