Race Comparison In The Penal System Criminology Essay

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When reporting crime in the United States, several entities are used. Some of these are news media, tourism agencies, and other groups that are interested in crime. They will use figures from compiled ranking of cities and counties. However, these rankings do not provide any insight into many factors that make up crime in any given town, city, county, state, or region. At times, this information that is given is incomplete and misleading. Demographic and geographic locations should be considered in a certain jurisdiction before an accurate and complete assessment of crime can be made. The U.S. Census Bureau will provide us geographical location, racial, and ethical make up of local population. Your local Chamber of Commerce will give you and insight into the economical and cultural make up of cities and counties. According to the FBI, "Understanding a jurisdictions industrial economic base; its dependence upon neighboring jurisdictions; its transportation system; its economic dependence on nonresidents(such as tourists and convention attendees); its proximity to military installations, correctional facilities, etc.; all contribute to accurately gauging and interpreting the crime known to and reported by law enforcement".

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Racial profiling, higher poverty rates, and young males without male role models in the home are some of the results as to why African Americans have the highest crime rates in the country. Racial profiling continues to go on today. "Racial profiling occurs when law officers use skin color or ethnicity as a factor in considering whether a particular individual was involved in a crime". (El Paso Times, 2010) Young men that grow up in the slums or ghettos in our neighborhoods will resort to anything that will make them some quick money to help provide for their families, most of the time it consists of some sort of crime, whether it be to sell drugs or robbery. Sometimes you don't always get the best examples set for you to go by. The mindset of trying to get out of the ghetto seems hopeless to some. Usually, Hispanics will have to deal with illegal immigration and not being able to find a job. Gang-related animosity plays another big role in crime. Raymond Washington, a fifteen year old student at Fremont High School started what would later become known as the Crips (Community Revolution in Progress) in 1969. His initial intentions were to continue the Revolutionary ideology of the 1960s, acting as a community leader, and aggressively protect their local neighborhoods. The Crips are now one of the oldest, largest and most notorious gangs in the United States. The Crips became so popular, that they multiplied. Examples of some of the first Crips gangs from Los Angeles were the Eastside Crips, Compton Crips, Westside Crips, Avalon Garden Crips, and the Harlem Crips. By 1971, the Crips had spread across Los Angeles. They became violent when trying to expand their territory, leading to murder and selling crack cocaine.

Statistics show that African Americans have the highest crime rates due to drugs and drug possession. Among men, blacks (28.5 percent) are about six times more likely than whites (4.4 percent) to be admitted to prison during their life. Based on the U.S. Department of Justice, current rates of incarceration are an estimated 7.9 percent of black males compared to 0.7 percent of white males will enter State or Federal prison by the time they are age 20 and 21.4 percent black males versus 1.4 percent of white males will be incarcerated by age 30. Some have noted that more black men are in prison in America than are in college. The National Institute of Drug Abuse estimated that while 12 percent of drug users are black, they make up nearly 50 percent of all drug possession arrests in the U.S. Sixty-five percent of state prison inmates belonged to racial or ethnic minorities in 1991, which is up from 60 percent in 1986. According to an article on Sociological Comparisons between African-Americans and Whites, the lifetime chances of a person going to prison are higher for blacks (16.2 percent) and Hispanics (9.4 percent) than for whites (2.5 percent). An estimated 28 percent of black males will enter State or Federal prison during their lifetime, as compared to 16 percent Hispanics and 4.4 percent of white males, based on current rates of first time incarcerations. Statistically, newborn black males in the country have better than a 1 in 4 chance of going to prison within their life span, whereas Hispanic males have a 1 in 6 chance, and white men have a 1 in 23 chance of serving time in prison.

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Implications of mass incarceration among various ethnic groups, suggest that social inequality from an economic perspective has resulted in young black men turning to crime die to a decrease in job opportunities. "Faced with fewer regular jobs, some inner-city black youth find work in the underground economy---notably in street-level drug sales". (Duster, 1997, 261) According to sociologists and economists, these disadvantages increase the likelihood of potential arrests and incarceration. This decline in urban economics is directly linked to the increase to the Penal population. As they are faced with impoverish and "ghetto" living conditions, their participation in crime and involvement with the criminal justice system became their way of life. Research determined that high crime rates are found in poor neighborhoods where economically disadvantaged men engage in delinquency and crime more so than the affluent. When comparing a young white, middle-class male to a young black male from a low-income family, the end results are strikingly different. Often times a middle-class, white male, dealing with powder cocaine for the first time, will have parents who may use their education, negotiating skills, or economic resources to persuade the convicting judge to drop the charges and consider another form of punishment such as counseling or community service, whereas with the young black male, dealing with crack cocaine for the first time, may not have these same resources available and therefore is less likely to get a second chance. The punishment most likely results in prison time rather than counseling or community service. It seems that discrimination not only is present toward the individual, but also toward the type of drug being sold. Most Penal systems give harsher sentences to those who deal in powder cocaine versus crack cocaine. With that being said, African American incarceration rates did decrease by over 20 percent from 1999 to 2005 while the incarceration rates for white males increased by over 40 percent due to the rapid emergence of methamphetamine users, which are predominately white.

Men inhabit 90 percent of space in prison and jails. This is even true for county jails. Since the late nineteenth century, African Americans have always been incarcerated at a higher velocity than whites. With the integration of African Americans as complete citizens, racial disparity has varied. Census data in the late nineteenth century has shown that blacks were two times as likely to be incarcerated as whites.

Differences in race, class, gender, and age have shown to produce radically high rates of imprisonment of young black males who have very limited schooling. Statistics show that at the beginning of the prison boom in 1980, nearly 10 percent of young black men who dropped out of high school were incarcerated in prison or jail. In 2008, which was the peak of the prison boom, 1 in 10 young black men who have earned a high school diploma were imprisoned. According to an article published by Becky Pettit of The University of Washington, Seattle, called Incarceration and Social Inequality, state prisoners averaged just a tenth grade education, and about 70 percent have no high school diploma.

After more than two decades of growth, the U.S. prison population has stabilized. Since 1998, about 600,000 people have been released from prison each year. That is about 1,600 per day. Out of the 600,000, 100,000 are released without any community supervision. One third of them are drug offenders and one fourth of them are violent offenders. Three fourths of these prisoners have a history of substance abuse and 16 percent are mentally ill. The median educational level for an individual getting out of prison is eleventh grade. In 1998, eighty eight percent of the ex-offenders reentering the community were men and twelve percent women. Individuals with felony drug convictions are barred for life from various forms of public assistance, including temporary assistance for needy families and food stamps. A felon is not allowed to vote.

In order to keep these individuals off the streets and out of prison is to get involved in the community. There are several different community related activities to participate in. These young men could be examples to the community, by mentoring other young men living in similar conditions or from similar backgrounds. I do believe that learning to adapt starts in the home. Parents should encourage their children to set goals and try to achieve them . They should provide examples for their children in order for them to see what it is like to be a positive role model. Education is key. "Young African American men see their options as going to prison or dying. As a result, they don't invest in their education, they don't invest in their futures, and they father children, they don't support them." (Dobbs, 2007). With that being said, encouraging our young males of any race to attend college to obtain a degree is a major factor in their lives. They need to come to the realization that what they do and participate in, whether it be legal or illegal, will affect others around them. In some cases, the family pays for the consequences right along with the inmates, making them prisoners as well. The sentencing may not be the same, but it is still a harsh reality to except. Being God-fearing and going to church is another example of being involved. Getting involved in the youth programs, spreading the word of God, and attending services regularly is another way of learning how to set goals in life.

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Thurgood Marshall, became a famous African American judge in the 1950s and 1960s for working with a case, Brown versus Board of Education. He stated that having separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. He won a great victory for civil rights. He became the first African American justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Clarence Thomas, was another famous African American judge, that ended up becoming the chairman of Equal Employment Opportunity Commision while President Reagan was in office, and then later was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1990. Salmon P. Chase was known as the Attorney General of Fugitive Slaves and was then elected to the U.S. Senate, later serving as a governor for Ohio. Judge Ricardo Martinez is the Northwest's first Hispanic federal judge. He talks about how justice should be blind, meaning that every person that shows up in a courtroom should be able to see themselves reflected in the person up there making these calls. Martinez nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court. This list is to only name a few of the famous ethnic judges, lawyers, and lawmakers. The research is endless.

Will we ever know the truth, the whole truth, about black crime or the real story behind white crime in this nation? I highly doubt that. I do hope that we continue to the open the lines of communication and learn to discuss all of the facts. Only then will we be able to make the changes necessary to overcome the colossal effect that race continues to have on the perception of black, Hispanic, and white males in America.