The Disparity In Sentencing Amongst Minorities In Prison

1906 words - 8 pages

Although some say the high disparity of minority to white prison sentences is due to repeat offenses by second and third time offenders, the disparity in the population between black and white Americans in the U.S. doesn't support the fact there are more minorities than whites in American prisons. The make- up of judges, juries and law enforcement officials in the judicial system are a factor. The high disparity amongst minorities in prison is due to the societal issues such as racial discrimination, racial inequality of lawmakers in the court system, and presumptive sentencing guidelines.
Racism in American society plays a part in the manner in which the judicial system operates. The American prison population is larger than at any time in the history of the penal system in the world.” Nearly half of the more than two million Americans behind bars are African Americans. These statistics are well known and frequently cited by white and black Americans; for many they define Black humanity”. (Ryan D. King, 2010) Since the end of slavery African Americans were believed to be prone to crime and in general a menace to American Society and are to blame for this disparity. While this minority population has broken the law and deserve retribution they are ultimately products of their environment. In a study conducted as early as the

late 20’s concerning minority crime. Thorsten Sellin’s research in “The Negro criminal”; a statistical note (Sellin, 1928) put it in perspective. “the stigmatization of crime as “black” and the masking of crime among whites as isolated failure, was a practice of discriminatory views by a majority white population. “The practice of linking crime to blacks, as a racial group, but not whites, he concluded, reinforced and reproduced racial inequality.” (Sellin, 1928)Moreover,” the belief in a higher criminality is significant in the creation of racial attitudes toward him on the part of white”. Colonialist believed African Americans were predisposed to commit crimes. Their belief was that these freed slaves would disrupt their newly evolving society. Majority white rule implemented and used different sets of standards within American society and the court system. These discriminatory laws padded statistics and African Americans were summarily convicted and sentenced based merely on skin color. Thorsten concluded “Speaking as a representative of the white majority in a Jim Crow nation, he exposed the unreliability of racial crime statistics and the deeply troubling ways in which blackness and criminality shaped racial identity and racial oppression in modern America” (Sellin, 1928). The feeling that crime was associated with being black lent to discriminatory feelings for generations. Minority crime statistics are omnipresent. Statistics on white crime remain for the most part unseen, except when used to exacerbate excessive criminality of African Americans.” (Mohammed, 07/2010) “Prison statistics became the basis...

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