Minority Disparity in American Prisons

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Minority Disparity in American Prisons

While analyzing data and reviewing numerous references, evidence has revealed that African Americans encompass a mass majority of this institution’s population. At the end of 2008, it is estimated that around two million people were incarcerated in either a state or federal prison system (Andersen, 2010). With this in mind, many citizens wonder if this is a direct reflection of increased racism in the judicial system, if African Americans are just committing more crimes, and/or if this is due to a lack of education or financial status. Consequently, this paper will discuss several theories that may provide further insight in to this unfortunate statistic.

In 2008, ninety three percent of incarcerated prisoners were men; of the men, thirty four percent of all sentenced prisoners were Caucasian, thirty eight percent were African Americans and twenty percent were Hispanic (Sabol. et al., 2009). Therefore, this information substantiates that African Americans have a four percent higher rate of being imprisoned than a Caucasian or fourteen percent higher rate than a Hispanic individual. In 2010, almost eight percent of all African American males, ranging from thirty to thirty four years of age, were sent to a state or federal penitentiary compared to only three percent of Hispanic males and one percent of Caucasian males (NAACP, 2013). This reference provides a valuable illustration of how African American males are typically incarcerated at a higher rate than their Caucasian counterparts. Nevertheless, these facts do not explain how racism plays a part in the criminal justice system nor does it clarify the reasoning behind the imbalance. It simply offers an observation of the dissimilarity amongst the races within these correctional facilities.

“Racism refers to acts of discrimination based solely on the racial characteristics of an individual or an entire people. The phenomenon of racism is global...