March 18, 2007
POLS: PUBLIC POLICY
TAKE HOME EXAM II
Family reunions usually occur annually depending on how large the family is. This is a time to eat great food, play fun competitive sports, and catch up on the lives of your family members that you don’t get to see often. While having a chance to actually think about what these events mean to me I noticed something starling. Each year I find out about a different family member, specifically black males, who’ve become incarcerated. This made me actually want to do some more research about the prison system.
The U.S has the most populated prison system in the world and they are mostly black. With the unequal over populated ...view middle of the document...
S. Along with the ridiculous number of people incarcerated, there is also an unequal number of prisoners according to race. Statistics indicate that one in every one hundred white men are behind bars compared to one in every thirty-six Hispanic men and one in fifteen are African American. Summarizing this information Blacks are five times likely to go to jail than whites, and three times more likely than Hispanics. This makes you wonder is the system really colorblind or does race play a factor in prison. The African Americans take up roughly 12 percent of the U.S. population and close to 38.9 percent of all prisoners in the United States with a population of 900,000 of the total 2.2 million incarcerated. If statistics keep panning out the way they are, one in three black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his life time. (pdf 2). Not just merely focusing on the black population, the amount and time spent in prison versus how that helps society as whole is the true problem. In the United States Prisoners are getting longer jail sentences for non violent crimes. The amount of Violent crime rates have actually been declining over the past decades, leaving prisons three quarters field with non-violent offenders. The ideology behind incarceration has changed from wanting to rehabilitate, to deterrence and retribution. Incarcerating so many Americans is said to help reduce crime. But according to a study that took place “nearly 275,000 prisoners released in 1994, 67.5% were rearrested within 3 years, and 51.8% were back in prison”. (wiki28)
The sentencing lengths of inmates are believed to be the reasoning for the high rates of incarceration. The United States continues to be criticized for incarcerating so many non-violent and victimless offenders (wiki 54). The major reason for the high rates of incarceration is the war on drugs. Many offenders in jail are basic drug users. The government decides to crack down on drug cases which seem to be usually targeted by the minorities. Looking directly at the minorities since they take up majority of prison cells you have to look at how the war on drugs has cracked down specifically on minority, poverty stricken neighborhoods . I would consider the war on drugs to be the proximate cause of the overpopulated racially unequal prisons. The root cause would start with the level of poverty and individual’s life circumstances. Starting when President Reagan, he declared a war on drugs in 1982 when the uses of drugs were on a decline. Once cracked/cocaine hit the streets of the lower class, Public officials used terms like “crack babies”, “crack heads” drug dealers in the inner city to publicize the war on drugs and gain support and funding against this epidemic. It is said that the war on drugs was not directly targeted to drugs but to racial politics strategized by the republicans to appeal to lower class whites. (3)Because so many Americans of color are going to prison on small...