Incarceration of African American Males Essay
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Introduction The trend of African American males between the ages of 25 and 29 has seen a dramatic increase of incarceration. Attention has been focusing on areas of housing, education, and healthcare but the most prominent problem for African American males is the increase in the incarceration rate. African American males between the ages of 25 and 29 incarceration rate has been thought, by many, to be caused by economic factors such as under employment or unemployment, poor housing, lack of education, and lack of healthcare.
Yet, others believe it is due to the imbalance of minorities within the criminal justice system, such as judges, lawyers, and lawmakers. This paper will explore two different outlooks; society has come up with so far, as to why African American Males between the ages of 25 and 29 are increasingly incarcerated. Finally, the information will give awareness to the problems that is faced by African American Males between the ages of 25 and 29. Prevalence – Problem 1 More than 40% of all American prisoners, men and women, are African American men, yet they make up just 13% of the U.
S. male population (Roberts, 2004).
This statistic does not include those African American men who are in local jails nor does it include those African American men under custodial supervision (Table 2). They enter the state and federal prison system, at the prime of their economic and reproductive lives and yet they exit prison behind both economically and socially. The high rate of incarceration among African Americans has been noted by the interconnection of poor economy, lack of affordable housing, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, absence of a strong black male role model, lack of access to education, or some type of combination of these factors.
Statistics don’t even give African American males a good chance to stay out of jail. They have a one in four chance of being incarcerated, while Hispanic American males have a one in six chance, and white males only have a one in twenty three chance of incarceration. The color of African Americans sets them apart and makes them targetable. Prevalence – Problem 2 There is evidence, in our American Justice System, of structural inequality as seen in the percentages of minorities to the percentage of majorities employed in high ranking positions, within the system.
The percentage of United States judges by race are 79% Caucasian, 12% African American, and 2% Hispanics American (Federal Judicial Center, 2012), as for the thousands of lawyers in the United States it is approximate of 3% are African American (National Law Group, 2010-2011), and about 1 in 4 police officers are members of a racial or ethnic minority in 2007 (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2013). An investigation into racial profiling showed that African American and Hispanic American offenders, who often are young unemployed males, are more likely than their white counterparts (Spohn, C.
, 2000). Their prison sentences are also typically longer or they receive differential benefits from guideline departures than do similarly situated white offenders (Spohn, C. , 2000). We must acknowledge the problems of racial disparity within the criminal justice system, communicate racial disparity within the criminal justice system with those we who are not informed of the problem, and stay committed to changing racial disparity within our justice system for change to begin.
Causes In researching the high rate of incarceration in America it is more likely than not that the increase in African American Males being incarcerated is due to the War on Drugs (Table 1). It is public knowledge that drug crime ranks high among the effects of poverty. These poor neighborhoods not only endure crime they have poor schools, poor food, cramped living areas, and shortage of jobs if any jobs at all.
Drugs and drug crime has become regularity in low income communities, arrests of Hispanics made up 55% of cocaine powder offences and 52% of marijuana offenses and 49% involving opiates: African Americans were suspected in 75% of crack cocaine cases; White males were suspected in 41% all methamphetamine cases (Motivans, M. , 2011). Decades of failed public and private remedies for chronic disparities and disadvantages in communities of color invite us to reexamine systems and institutions that provide and restrict opportunity in new ways (Lawrence, K. , 2011).
The causes seem to be intertwined being poor equals, equals a poor education, equals lack of employment, and ultimately equals an increased rate of crime. Consequences The causes seem to be intertwined being poor, equals lack of education, which equals lack of employment, which equals increased rate of crime which equals impossibility to join criminal justice system. Also, many of these men are incarcerated while all the other non-incarcerated American young men are finishing school, starting careers, earning seniority at work, marrying and having children thus gaining capital.
Even when released from prison, these men return back to their communities with a felony record that will pose extreme problems for them. The incarceration leads the released convict into a lower social class even if they were considered lower class Americans prior to their incarceration; they now are lower in social class standing in most instances. This leads to a poor African American community, perhaps as many as 50% of the male population will have been in prison.
These incarcerated African American Males, who are in their prime of life, also are leaving half the families in this community facing such things as poverty, lack of affordable housing, mental illness, substance abuse, violence, absence of a strong black male role model, lack of access to education, or some type of combination of these factors. The community ultimately will become poverty stricken, struggling to survive, and ultimately vulnerable to the situation repeating. Solutions – How can this be changed? There are four key aspects to addressing racial disparity, in my opinion: 1.
Acknowledge 2. Communication 3. Setback = Strength 4. Commitment Not only is the problem of racial disparity under recognized by society it is not being communicated effectively to make change. Majority groups needs to acknowledge racial disparity and minority groups need to communicate their knowledge regarding racial disparity. As each group majority and minority begins to become share their information with each other and work together for a common solution acknowledging there will be setbacks but with continued commitment systemic change will happen.
Conclusion By refusing to tolerate disparate treatment of people of color or anyone within the criminal justice system we empower ourselves and our country. It is time that everyone including our legislators, law enforcement, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges work collectively and courageously to eradicate this negative stigma. Despite, America being known for its equal rights we are living proof that in this era inequality is a factor that cannot be taken lightly. The statistics that are surrounding African American males is astounding.
We need to empower African American males with the knowledge that they have a one in four chance of becoming incarcerated. It is also important to know that Hispanic males have a one in six chance, and white males have a one in twenty three chance of incarceration. All of these statistics need to be addressed to empower each and every one us. Throughout history we have not seen a change in majority groups (White, Male) and minority groups (Women, anyone that is not White) although we have seen numbers of minorities increasing at a fast pace.
Today, however, the election of Barack Obama, not once but twice, may set the new ideal of what an American actually is. As we embrace different cultures and their ethnic backgrounds society will prosper. As society increases their knowledge, in regards to each person’s differences, they will acquire greater strength and prosperity. The only issue, that can occur, will be in the short term empowering others to embrace diversity. When we look beyond short-term, focus will shift to diverse empowerment through embracing the knowledge of our differences thus making us stronger as a society.
TABLE 1: BLACK PROPORTION OF DRUG ARRESTS, EXCLUDING MARIJUANA POSSESSION YEAR BLACK % 1999 40. 1 2000 39. 3 2001 39. 1 2002 35. 8 2003 33. 8 2004 33. 1 2005 33. 2 Data calculated from drug arrest figures by race provided by the Uniform Crime Reports division of the FBI TABLE 2: FBI CRIME REPORT Arrests By Race, 2006 [11,249 agencies; 2006 estimated population 216,685,152] Total White Black American Indian or Alaskan Native Asian or Pacific islander Total White Black American Indian or Alaskan Native Asian or Pacific Islander TOTAL 10,437,620.
7270214 2924724 130589 112093 100. 0 69. 7 28 1. 3 1. 1 Drug abuse violations 1376192 875101 483886 8198 9607 1000 63. 6 35. 1 0. 6 0. 7 DUI’S 1034651 914226 95260 13484 11681 100 88. 4 9. 2 1. 3 1. 1 Liquor laws 466323 398068 50035 12831 5389 100 85. 4 10. 7 2. 8 1. 2 Drunken-ness 408439 344155 54113 7884 2287 100 84. 3 13. 2 1. 9 0. 6 Dis-orderly conduct 5117264 325991 179733 7606 3934 100 63. 0 34. 7 1. 5 0. 8 (The FBI: Uniform Crime Report, 2010) References Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2013, http://bjs. ojp. usdoj. gov/index. cfm?
ty=tp&tid=71 The FBI Uniform Crime Reports, 2010, Table 43, http://www. fbi. gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u. s/2010/crime-in-the-u. s. -2010/tables/table-43 Federal Judicial Center, 2012, Overview of the United States Court System, http://www. fjc. gov/public/pdf. nsf/lookup/FJC_Standard_PPT_English_June_2012. pdf/$file/FJC_Standard_PPT_English_June_2012. pdf Lawrence, K. , 2011, Race, Crime, and Punishment: Breaking the Connection in America, http://www. aspeninstitute. org/sites/default/files/content/docs/pubs/Race-Crime-Punishment.
pdf Motivans, Mark, 2011, Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, http://bjs. ojp. usdoj. gov/content/pub/pdf/fjs09. pdf National Law Group 2010-2011, http://blacklawyers. net/ Roberts, D. , 2004, Measuring the Social and Moral Cost of Mass Incarceration, in African American Communities, http://www. law. fsu. edu/faculty/2003-2004workshops/roberts. pdf Spohn,C. ,2000, Thirty Years of Sentencing Reform: The Quest for a Racially Neutral Sentencing Process, http://www. justicestudies. com/pubs/livelink3-1. pdf.