Why the Majority of Prison is African American in the US

When you think about America, do you think of barbed wire and prison bars? Despite being the poster state for due process and human rights, the United States is also the leader in another area. Our country is number one in putting people in prison. A noticeable majority of these prisoners are African American.

Prisoner Percentages Reveal a Racial Disparity

Were you aware that 6.7 million Americans are languishing under some sort of correctional system control? This includes 2.2 million people that are in jail or prison. Whether at the county, state, or Federal level, there are more people in prison in American than anywhere else in the world. This figure is growing.

As a result, many people are also beginning to take note of another fact. There is a racial disparity being highlighted by these figures. This is the fact that the majority of people being put into county, state, and Federal prisons are members of a single group. Black Americans make up this unfortunate majority.

Once an African American has been arrested, they are much more likely to go on to be convicted. They are thus more likely to spend time in prison than members of any other ethnic or racial group. As they serve their time, they will also likely be serving more of it than anyone else. This is a serious injustice.

At the present moment, an African American is something like 5 times more likely to be convicted of a crime than a white person. By contrast, a Hispanic person is “merely” 3 times as likely to be convicted. Another shocking stat to consider is that 1 in every 3 African American males has a chance to end up in prison.

Disparity in Prison Population May Be Systemic

Many critics of mass incarceration have alleged that this disparity, like others of its kind, is due to a double standard. This is the divide that exists in this country between the rich and the poor. They allege that there is one set of laws for the rich, another for the poor. But is there yet another one for minorities?

As has been shown above, an African American is 5 times more likely than a white person to be convicted. After conviction, they tend to serve much longer terms in prison. This is due to the fact that they generally receive comparatively poor legal representation in contrast to what a rich white person can afford.

While the legal system is officially blind to color, the reality seems to be far otherwise. These stats tend to point to the conclusion that the disparity may well be systemic in nature. Barring a major overhaul in the way these cases are handled, it may also be permanent. Any serious reform will need to begin here.

Prison Reform Should Begin with Justice Reform

It is our opinion that any serious reform of the prison system should begin with a similar overhaul of the justice system. An African American male is more likely to have contact with police officers that ends in an arrest. 27 percent of arrests involve African Americans. They make up 35 percent of youth arrests.

Experts in the criminal justice system are pointing to this systemic disparity with increasing frequency. New reforms are being suggested to deal in a fair and objective manner with the issue.

While nothing concrete has yet been done, the ball is at least beginning to roll. The issue for many will be whether or not these proposed reforms are enough. For African American prisoners, the clock is ticking.

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