This paper is going to provide an understanding about how and why African American males are incarcerated at higher rates than any other race and how it is growing. It will also show racial disparities on sentencing, crimes and overall treatment. You will have a better understanding of how the family structure has been destroyed as a result of incarceration creating segregation within the African American race. Drugs and homicide have negatively impacted the African American community as well because of put in prison for drug offenses many times where they become destructive to the point of killing one another. You will see how African American men’s plight is not slated for success but failure with life in prison until death. The criminal justice system are building more jails and prisons to house them instead of preventive measures like rehabilitation, job training programs to stay in the community.
Introduction and Problem Statement
Why are African American Men Incarcerated at Higher Rates Than Hispanics and Caucasians?
The American prison and jail system is defined by an entrenched racial disparity in the population of incarcerated people. The national incarceration rate for whites is 412 per 100,000 residents, compared to 2,290 for African Americans and 742 for Hispanics. These figures mean that 2.3% of all African American are incarcerated, compared to 0.4% of whites and 0.7% of Hispanics. While these overall rates of incarceration are all at record high, they fail to reflect the concentrated impact of incarceration among young African American males in particular, men who reside in disadvantaged neighborhoods. One in 9 African American males between the ages of 25 and 29 is currently incarcerated in a prison or jail. Whites are more likely to be incarcerated in local jails than prison. Since jail stays are relatively short compared to prison terms, the collateral consequence of incarceration separation from family, reduced employment prospects are generally less severe than for persons spending a year or more in state prison (Harrison and Beck, 2005). In custody incarceration rate for black males was 4,618 per 100,000. Hispanic males were incarcerated at a rate of 1,747 per 100,000. Compared to the estimated number of black, white and Hispanic males in the U.S. resident population, black males (6 times) and Hispanics males (2 times) were more likely to be held in custody that white males. At midyear 2007 the estimated incarceration rate of white male was 773 per 100,000. African American men are facing so many challenges from family formation, health, lack of education,
employment and intimate partner violence (IPV) that it has literally torn down the race according to the experts. Incarceration is the root to all of these problems and things are getting worse: “It is noted that incarceration is key piece of the web of entanglement that traps many African American men and women in a life of struggle, poverty, ill health, violence, and limited life chances” (Sabol, 2008). African American males have been profiled more than any race in all violations from traffic citations to capital murder cases and drug charges where they are getting more time for crack than powdered cocaine. Most of the African American men that are incarcerated have felony charges. While in prison African American men are contracting HIV/AIDS and dying there upon release bringing it back into their communities and infecting their female partners.
Based on statistics there is a huge disparity among who is incarcerated according to race. In the U.S. history and globally men are more likely to be incarcerated than women. Of the 2.6 million Americans who are incarcerated, 43% are African American men which account for one million. African Americans comprise nearly two thirds of the male prison population yet they make up 13% of the U.S. male population. African Americans males are incarcerated more than any other race they are so many myths, beliefs and stereotypes that are involved. African Americans do commit certain crimes more than whites. African Americans are more likely to commit homicides and it is the leading cause of death. They also commit the most violent crimes; rape, assault and homicide. While whites commit other types of crime such as financial crimes these are nonviolent but they are more likely to be serial murderers, child molesters, and school shooters. White men who are child molesters according to the analysis serve shorter sentences than crack offenders, who are primarily African American men. Child molesters serve an average of 6 years and 43% of their sentences and for crack cocaine its 11 years which is 80% of the sentence. Racial profiling has been targeted for African Americans and Hispanics in “pulling over” for no reason to searching private property or car and making an arrest. There are racial disparities where White counterparts receive lighter sentences for same crime than African Americans.
Incarceration has some long term effects that really impact negatively: “Nearly 10% of all African American men aged 18-34 are incarcerated in the prison system. This statistic does not include those African American men who are in local jails, either awaiting trial or serving sentences less than 1 year in length, nor does it include those African American under custodial supervision: “those on parole or probation. These are young men serving lengthy sentences primarily for drug-related crimes. They enter the state and federal prison system, prisons like Parchman in Mississippi , Angola in Louisiana or Sing Sing in New York, at the prime of their economic and reproductive lives, and when they emerge, “they will be behind in these life stages if not aged out of then entirely. When the rest of American young men are finishing school, starting careers, earning seniority at work, and marrying and having children, these men are in prison, their human capital decaying. Across the life course, fully 25%-33% of African American men will be in the criminal justice system” (King, 2006). African American and Hispanic are likely to spend a lifetime in prison because they are targeted more and if they are released back into the community they still will not get employment because of being felons. The war on drug was never conquered despite constant efforts and there were racial disparities: “Most drug offenders are white. Five times as many whites use drugs as blacks. Yet blacks comprise the great majority of drug offenders sent to prison. The solution to this racial inequity is not to incarcerate more whites, but reduce the use of prison for low-level drug offenders and to increase the availability of substance abuse treatment.” Because of their extraordinary rate of incarceration, one in every 20 black men over the age of 18 is in a state or federal prison, compared to one in every 180 whites.
African Americans are more likely to receive jail sentences no matter what the crime is and its growing due to drugs, family structure breakdown, racial profiling, and economic loss in the African American community. It seems no matter what the prisons will continue to be largely populated with African American males than whites or Hispanics. Hispanics are incarcerated and targeted in some cases but African American men suffer the most. White men have more drug charges while African American men get longer sentences for crack than powdered cocaine. According to the experts keeping the African American male in jail during their most productive years promotes poverty, HIV (AIDS), breakdown of the family structure, economic loss. The new harsh sentencing guidelines, “three-strikes, you’re out” is another way of segregating African American men because they don’t return to the community because of life sentences under particular scenarios. They are warehouse until old age or death. Most of the African American men have felony convictions and if integrated back into the community are unable to get gainful employment and have no voting privileges. Since 1977, 16 states have implemented reforms to their felony disenfranchisement policies “These reforms have resulted in the restoration of voting right to an estimated 621,400 persons “By 2004, the total mumber of people disenfranchised due to a felony conviction had risen to 5.3 million ” Among those disenfranchised, 74% are currently living in the community “In 2004 1 in 12 African Americans was disenfranchised becaused of a felony conviction, a rate nearly five times tht of non-African American “Voting is the linked with reduced recidivism; one study show that 27 percent on non-voters were rearrested, compared with 12 percent of voters”(King, 2006).
It seems no matter what the prisons will continue to be largely populated with African American males than whites or Hispanics. Hispanics are incarcerated and targeted in some cases but African American men suffer the most. White men have more drug charges while African American men get longer sentences for crack than powdered cocaine. According to the experts keeping the African American male in jail during their most productive years promotes poverty, HIV (AIDS), breakdown of the family structure, economic loss. The new harsh sentencing guidelines, “three-strikes, you’re out” is another way of segregating African American men because they don’t return to the community because of life sentences under particular scenarios. They are warehouse until old age or death. Most of the African American men have felony convictions and if integrated back into the community are unable to get gainful employment and have no voting privileges.
Finally jails and prisons were designed to dehumanize and convert the population into specimens like a zoo with keepers but dangerous to each other. As a result of the criminal justice system it has created a stereotype that African American males are non productive citizens that cannot do anything right with the odds being stack against them. Unfortunately drugs have only worsened the plight of the African American men because it was too fold either there was a drug addiction or offense or both that causing greater sentencing. Finally every African American born faces a grim reality that instead of going to college and leading a productive life it may only result in becoming incarcerated until death that inevitably places them in a box. Everyone has a responsibility in taking the initiative to promote health and well-being because it will give you a quality of life. Instead of rehabilitation for the African American men it’s been the goal to build more prisons in creating a domino effect that dominate the individual through incarceration. You can treat anyone holistically when there only one path that results in punishment. It takes a community and in some cases a state to raise young men to be successful family oriented regardless of race. Through education and awareness perhaps the trend may be reduced or even stopped. Thus each individual will be judged by their crime, character or lack of character and not the color of his skin.