Non-Hispanic whites represent 44 percent of this total population, Hispanics Tracie Keesee, a black woman who rose through the ranks to become division chief for research, training and technology for the Denver Police Department. So who do we listen to?
In the end, it really should be about making sure everyone understands the law and why it is being applied. And making sure that, for whatever the reason, you are applying the law equitably. This analysis counts only inmates sentenced to more than a year. The gap between white and Hispanic imprisonment also narrowed between and , but not because of a decrease in Hispanic prisoners. Instead, the number of white prisoners fell while the number of Hispanic inmates increased slightly.
At the end of , there were , more white inmates than Hispanic inmates , vs. Overall, there were 1,, sentenced prisoners in the U. Through the prism of research on poverty, scholars find that the family life of the disadvantaged has become dramatically more complex and unstable over the last few decades.
Divorce and nonmarital births have contributed significantly to rising rates of single parenthood, and these changes in American family structure are concentrated among low-income mothers. As a consequence, poor children regularly grow up, at least for a time, with a single mother and, at different times, with a variety of adult males in their households. High rates of parental incarceration likely add to the instability of family life among poor children. Over half of all prisoners have children under the age of eighteen, and about 45 percent of those parents were living with their children at the time they were sent to prison.
About two-thirds of prisoners stay in regular contact with their children either by phone, mail, or visitation. In addition to the forced separation of incarceration, the post-release effects on economic opportunities leave formerly incarcerated parents less equipped to provide financially for their children.
New research also shows that the children of incarcerated parents, particularly the boys, are at greater risk of developmental delays and behavioral problems. Domestic violence is much more common among the formerly incarcerated compared to other disadvantaged men. Survey data indicate that formerly incarcerated men are about four times more likely to assault their domestic partners than men who have never been incarcerated.
Though the relative risk is very high, around 90 percent of the partners of formerly incarcerated report no domestic violence at all. The scale of the effects of parental incarceration on children can be revealed simply by statistics showing the number of children with a parent in prison or jail.
Among white children in , only 0. Rates of parental incarceration are roughly double among Latino children, with 3. Among African American children, 1. The spectacular growth in the American penal system over the last three decades was concentrated in a small segment of the population, among young minority men with very low levels of education. By the early s, prison time was a common life event for this group, and today more than two-thirds of African American male dropouts are expected to serve time in state or federal prison.
These demographic contours of mass imprisonment have created a new class of social outsiders whose relationship to the state and society is wholly different from the rest of the population.
Social marginality is deepened by the inequalities produced by incarceration. Workers with prison records experience significant declines in earnings and employment. Yet much of this reality remains hidden from view. In social life, for all but those whose incarceration rates are highest, prisons are exotic institutions unknown to the social mainstream.
Our national data systems, and the social facts they produce, are structured around normative domestic and economic life, systematically excluding prison inmates. Thus we define carceral inequalities as invisible, cumulative, and intergenerational.
Because they are so deeply concentrated in a small disadvantaged fraction of the population, the social and economic effects of incarceration create a discrete social group whose collective experience is so distinctive yet unknown that their disadvantage remains largely beyond the apprehension of public policy or public conversation.
The redrawing of American social inequality by mass incarceration amounts to a contraction of citizenship — a contraction of that population that enjoys, in T. Socioeconomic disadvantage, crime, and incarceration in the current generation undermine the stability of family life and material support for children. As adults, these children will be at greater risk of diminished life chances and criminal involvement, and at greater risk of incarceration as a result.
Skeptics will respond that these are false issues of social justice: the prison boom substantially reduced crime, and criminals should forfeit their societal membership in any case. The crime-reducing effects of incarceration are hotly debated, however.
Empirical estimates of the effects of incarceration on crime vary widely, and often they turn on assumptions that are difficult to test directly. Researchers have focused on the sharp decline in U. Conservative estimates attribute about one-tenth of the s crime decline to the growth in imprisonment rates. The possibility of improved public safety through increased incarceration is by now exhausted.
Studies of the effects of incarceration on crime also focus only on the short term. Indeed, because of the negative effects of incarceration on economic opportunities and family life, incarceration contributes to crime in the long run by adding to idleness and family breakdown among released prisoners. Scale matters, too. If the negative effects of incarceration were scattered among a small number of serious criminal offenders, these effects may well be overwhelmed by reduction in crime through incapacitation.For less serious crimes, authorities may exercise greater discretion at the point of arrest. Those who are convicted frequently lose intimate relationships with partners or access to their children, and they are less likely to find employment. Our perspective, focused on the social and economic inequalities of American life, suggests that social policy improving opportunity and employment, for young men in particular, holds special promise as an instrument for public safety.
For the first generations growing up in the post—civil rights era, the prison now looms as a significant institutional influence on life chances. These factors might include forms of racial bias related to perceived racial threat. Thus, there is little doubt about this portion of the argument: prisoners come from and return to a narrow group of neighborhoods, very disadvantaged ones. Today, however, clear majorities of the young men in poor communities are going to prison and returning home less employable and more detached from their families.
In Hawkins, D. But, more than 50 percent of those imprisoned for drug sales or possession are people of color. The newsworthiness and selection bias in news about murder: Comparative and relative effects of novelty and race and gender typifications on newspaper coverage about homicide. Seeing black: Race, crime, and visual processing. Nothing could be further from the truth. The scale of racial disparity in incarceration can also be seen by comparing states that have lower than average black incarceration rates to those with higher than average white incarceration rates.
The result was an unprecedented event for its kind at CU, as far as Ford or England say they know, but more importantly, it may have helped to highlight ongoing efforts to curb racial disparities in sentencing. Children of individuals who have been imprisoned have reduced educational attainment, which obviously bodes ill for their future economic competitiveness. Researchers Gaylen Armstrong and Nancy Rodriguez, whose work centers on county-level differences in juvenile justice outcomes found that it is not solely individual-level characteristics that influence outcomes, but the composition of the community where the juvenile resides that makes a difference as well. In addition, the evidence indicates that, indeed, the places that released prisoners return to are just as geographically concentrated in other ways, as shown by comparison of the racial and ethnic composition of high-incarceration neighborhoods with the rest of the city, and the poverty rates for these communities and the city as a whole. And a number of ethnographers—who have been spending time in these communities and watching how families, friendship networks, and communities are faring—are adding additional evidence that indicates that high levels of imprisonment, concentrated in disadvantaged communities of color, are indeed criminogenic.
Annual estimates of resident population by sex, race, and Hispanic origin for the United States, states and counties: April 1, to July 1, Causes of Disparity The data in this report document pervasive racial disparities in state imprisonment, and make clear that despite greater awareness among the public of mass incarceration and some modest successes at decarceration, racial and ethnic disparities are still a substantial feature of our prison system. One of the young men about to be released told a visiting academic researcher that he was worried because he had no home to return to, no job, and few prospects to help him when he stepped out of the prison door. At multiple points in the system, race may play a role. Department of Justice, and public-policy research organizations such as the Justice Policy Institute, and it was reiterated on Feb.
Invisible Inequality. They are husbands or wives or girlfriends or boyfriends, sons, daughters, friends, coworkers, and neighbors.
Washington, DC: U. Some criminologists believe that when people from a community are imprisoned at a high enough number—coercive mobility—the effect may also be criminogenic. A return to justice: Rethinking our approach to juveniles in the system. A criminal record was found to reduce callbacks from prospective employers by around 50 percent, an effect that was larger for African Americans than for whites. The inequality created by incarceration is often invisible to the mainstream of society because incarceration is concentrated and segregative.