The United States has one of the highest incarceration rates globally, and racial minorities make up a disproportionate percentage of those incarcerated. According to recent statistics, African Americans represent 12% of the U.S. population but account for 40% of all prisoners nationwide (Bureau of Justice Statistics).
This disparity is not limited to adults; black youth are more than five times as likely as white youth to be arrested or detained for a crime (National Council on Crime and Delinquency). These numbers suggest an issue with how our society treats people based on their race when it comes to law enforcement and incarceration.
This disparity has many causes, including poverty, lack of access to education and employment opportunities, implicit bias by police officers toward minority groups, etc. Still, no matter what caused this discrepancy, we need solutions now.
It’s time we take action. We believe that reducing recidivism rates can reduce racial disparity through policy change and community outreach programs. We should also focus on increasing support from communities for former inmates that have been affected by these issues most directly, namely communities of color across America.
African Americans and Latinos are disproportionately represented in the population of the prisons. This means that even though these groups make up only about 30 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned at some point during their lives.
In addition to being incarcerated at higher rates, African Americans also receive harsher sentences when convicted of crimes than whites who committed similar offenses – a phenomenon known as “disparate sentencing” or “sentencing disparity.”
These differences have been attributed to implicit bias among judges and prosecutors. There is evidence that suggests that jurors may be responsible for much of this disparity as well. We can train judges and lawyers to be unbiased through proper training and inform them what the consequences of their biased decisions on someone’s life are.
Racial disparities exist not just in prison populations but also on probation and parole supervision rates, with African American adults comprising nearly one-third of all adults under correctional control despite making up less than 13 percent of the general adult population.