Monday, December 30, 2013

Incarceration Nation

09One of the most pervasive problems facing America today, other than racism, is the explosive incarceration rates that only benefit the subsidized private interests. This injustice is as old as the country’s government sanctioned “Jim Crow” system. The incarcerate rate in the United States of America is the highest in the entire world. We have lived and been taught that America is the land of the free and the place that respect the human rights of it people.
Those who follow and read Thought Provoking Perspective understand that I use this blog as a potent source of empowering knowledge to broaden the information base on issues that affect mankind. This particular issue is one that is much like slavery in that the perpetrators of this injustice believe, like the slave master, that there is nothing to see here, and it’s not a problem.
Numbers don’t lie, as of 2009; the incarceration rate in America was 743 per 100,000 of the national population (0.743%). In comparison, Russia had the second highest, at 577 per 100,000, Canada was 123rd in the world at 117 per 100,000, and China had 120 per 100,000. While Americans represent about 5 percent of the world's population, nearly one-quarter of the entire world's inmates are incarcerated in its prison system.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 2,266,800 adults were incarcerated in U.S. federal and state prisons, and county jails at year-end 201, which is about 0.7% of the adult resident population. Additionally, 4,814,200 adults at the end of 2011 were on probation or on parole. In total, 6,977,700 adults were under correctional supervision be it Probation, parole, jail, or prison in 2011amounting to 2.9% of adults the resident population. The report also states that there were 70,792 juveniles in juvenile detention in 2010.
The BJS has released a study which finds that, despite the total number of prisoners incarcerated for drug-related offenses increased by 57,000 between 1997 and 2004, the proportion of drug offenders to total prisoners in State prison populations stayed steady at 21%. The percentage of Federal prisoners serving time for drug offenses declined from 63% in 1997 to 55% in that same period. In the twenty-five years since the passage of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, the United States penal population rose from around 300,000 to more than two million.
In 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that U.S. State prison population growth rate had fallen to its lowest since 2006, but it still had a 0.2% growth-rate compared to the total U.S. prison population. When looking at specific populations within the criminal justice system, the growth rates are vastly different. In 1977, there were just slightly more than eleven thousand incarcerated females. By 2004,,, the number of women under state or federal prison had increased by 757 percent, to more than 111,000, and the percentage of women in prison has increased every year, at roughly double the rate of men, since 2000. The rate of incarcerated females has expanded at about 4.6% annually between 1995 and 2005 with women now accounting for 7% of the population in state and federal prisons.
The United States has a higher percent of imprisoned minorities than any other country in the world. In Washington D.C., three out of every four young black men are expected to serve some time in prison. In major cities across the country, 80% of young African Americans now have criminal records.
This brings me to the “unspoken truth” or the elephant in the room – RACE!  According to the BJS non-Hispanic blacks accounted for 39.4% of the total prison and jail population. In 2009 841,000 black males and 64,800 black females out of a total of 2,096,300 males and 201,200 females were incarcerated. According to the 2010 US Census Bureau blacks, including Hispanic blacks comprised 13.6% of the US population.
Hispanics (of all races) were 20.6% of the total jail and prison population in 2009. Hispanics comprised 16.3% of the US population according to the 2010 US census. The Northeast has the highest incarceration rates of Hispanics in the nation. Connecticut has the highest Hispanic-to-White ratio with 6.6 Hispanic males for every white male. The National Average Hispanic-to-White ratio is 1.8. Other states with high Hispanic-to-White ratios include Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York.
As the Hispanic community is not monolithic, variations are seen in incarceration rates. Among the Hispanic community, Puerto Ricans have the highest incarceration rate. Located primarily in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states, they are up to six times more likely to be incarcerated than whites, which may explain the higher incarceration rates for Hispanics overall in the Northeast region. Illegal immigrants, usually Mexican nationals, also make up a substantial number of Hispanics incarcerated.
Black majority cities have similar crime statistics for blacks as do cities where majority of the population is white. For example, white-majority San Diego has a slightly lower crime rate for blacks than does Atlanta, a city which has a black majority in population and city government. During the 1980s and 1990s drug and non-violent crimes filled Americans prison with “Three Strike Laws” and mandatory minimum sentences of 25 to life lead to the prison population explosion for all minorities groups.
So how free are we or does that only apply to those of privilege? It is well-known in the minority community that justice is unjust, the police do not protect or serve, and often times what we find when it comes to justice is JUST US! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

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