African American men and the prison system - Research Paper Example

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The American jail and prison system portrays a racial disparity in the population of incarcerated men.According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics report,approximately 40% of total jail and prison population comprises of non-Hispanic African Americans…
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Download file to see previous pages The report also indicates that African Americans have the highest imprisonment rate, about six times that of white American males and three times higher than Hispanic males. Further reports indicate that by 2007, the African American composition in the prison system was 900, 000 of the total 2.2 million population, which suggests that at least on in five African American man has been incarcerated (Alexander, 2011). If the current incarceration trend persists, then at least one in three African Americans will have an incarceration record by 2020 (ASAALH, 2011). The prison system adoption of incarceration policies has produce outstanding results in public safety, but they have had an enormous contribution to the weak informal social controls and family disruptions in the African American communities. African Americans disproportionate rate of incarceration has been documented in the past, but the current figures suggest than there are no active policies to address the issue. While it is true that crime rates have risen over the past thirty years by almost 500%, the increasing number of blacks incarcerated is still not explainable (Clear, Cole, and Reisig, 2011). Different individuals and parties have raised concerns over the issue, notably Michelle Alexander and her book on mass incarceration. According to Alexander, the current population of African Americans in the prison and jail system is greater than that enslaved before the beginning of the Civil War. She further argues that crime rates are at a historical low as compared to the fluctuations over the years. Alexander attributes the increase to the current policies on war on drugs, a war that seems to aim at the poor communities of color exclusively, despite the fact that whites also trade and use illegal drugs at similar or higher levels than African Americans (Alexander, 2011). Reports indicate that at least four of five African American youths living in some black inner-city society expect incarceration at one point in their lives. This leads economic and social disenfranchisement of many great African American, denying them voting rights, educational opportunities, public housing, and excluding them from equal opportunity hiring and legal rights like juries. According to Alexander, these discriminations and disenfranchisement causes more than 70% of these African Americans to return to the system after only two years (Clear, Cole, and Reisig, 2011). Another journalist, Lisa Ling, highlights the problems that face African American males after incarceration. She explores how the imprisonment of black males affects the subsequent and multiple generations of the community, creating a poverty cycle in the African American (Alexander, 2011). Among the difficulties she attributes to incarceration, include aggressive behavior, increased chances of homelessness, future imprisonment, and failure in school. Other challenges that ex-convicts face are reduced chances of getting a job, and lack of experience. Different states in the US exhibit variances in the proportion of black and white incarceration rates, ranging from as a high as 13.6-to-1 in states like Iowa to as low as 1.9-to-1 in Hawaii (Mauer and King, 2007). Interestingly, states that exhibit a high disproportional rate of incarceration are located on the Midwest and Northeast, including Wisconsin, Vermont, New Jersey, Iowa, and Connecticut. However, high disproportional rates between the Hispanic and the white incarceration population also follow similar geographic concentration, with the notable states being New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York. The states with ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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