Race and Mass Incarceration by M.B.

Today, race and mass incarceration is a huge problem in the United States. Prisons are becoming over crowded and felons are receiving a lesser punishment due to space problems. A large majority of those getting arrested are African American or Mexican men. The United States imprisons more people than any other country in the nation largely due to the war on drugs and the “get tough” policy. In many states, blacks are admitted to prisons on drug charges twenty to fifty-seven times greater than whites, even though studies have shown whites use illegal drugs more than blacks. One case showed that whites use crack cocaine eight times the rate of black. They say that the justice system is colorblind, however there are a lot of flaws. We are making blacks and browns seem as they are second class citizens. Our prisons are now overflowing and those being incarcerated are blacks and browns by an unproportional amount. This system of mass incarceration is an effort to create a permanent undercaste in America much like the Jim Crow laws.

Today 1 in 14 blacks are behind bars compared to 1 in 106 whites. Something about that doesn’t seem right. When police officers patrol for drugs they are more likely to target poor black neighborhoods than poor white neighborhoods. They are permanently an undercaste in the United States. Stop and frisks are also coming more and more common. The average black male in a lower class neighborhood gets stopped and frisked approximately 5 times a year . The question on whether lower class neighborhoods  are intentionally targeted is still up for question. While most cops say it is entirely random, the facts prove otherwise.Today, people of color make up 37% of the U.S. population but 67% of the prison population. More than half of the prison population comes from drug busts in lower class neighborhoods, this means an overwhelming number of minorities.

Prisons are becoming overcrowded and people who need to be locked up due to major crimes are not being held for as long as they need to be,The National Research Council reported that half of the 222% growth in the state prison population between 1980 and 2010 was due to an increase of time served in prison for all offenses. There has also been a historic rise in the use of life sentences: one in nine people in prison is now serving a life sentence, nearly a third of whom are sentenced to life without parole.. This is due to the thousands of people being locked up on accounts of drugs. Today officers should be fair when targeting communities with drug busts.

Poor colored neighborhoods are not the only ones using or selling drugs. Officers should patrol evenly and cut down on drug busts to avoid overcrowded prisons.

Due to the neighborhoods largely targeted by cops, statistically it looks like minorities are responsible for most criminal activity in the United States. Police purposely target low income housing communities, as well as stopping minorities on the streets. Poorer school districts are guaranteed to have a higher police presence than a school in a rich part of town. The ACLU study found black children made up the majority of juvenile arrests. And 88 percent of children between the ages of 4 and 12 arrested for violating curfew were children of color.

Mass incarceration is making minorities an undercaste in America. The way cops choose to patrol neighborhoods should be changed. White communities should be targeted equally to black communities.

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