American Corrections and Sentencing Trends Essay

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Survival of Racist Customs and Mores Into the 21st Century: Analysis of the American Correction and Sentencing Trends



Increasing awareness of the US's unsuccessful mass imprisonment experimentation has effected federal and state level modifications aimed at decreasing the nation's detention scale. Experts and policymakers have been suggesting "smart on crime" public safety strategies which support alternatives to imprisonment and decrease re-offense chances[footnoteRef:1]. Despite simultaneous fruitful bipartite dialogues on the subject of decreasing jail populations and bringing improvements to crime justice policies, the nation still struggles with disturbing racial frictions. The latest concern concentrates on frequent reports of law enforcement violence inflicted on non-Whites, some cases ending in fatalities of African-American males at the hands of law enforcers, with scant to no evident provocation. In this paper, the many fields in which racist values and traditions continue in the current era will be examined, with particular emphasis to the American corrective and penalizing system. [1: Hon Bill de Blasio, and City Hall. "Re: Mass Incarceration: Seizing the Moment for Reform." (2015)]

The Color of Imprisonment



The vast network of American lockups and secure units houses, at present, nearly 2 million individuals, of whom over 70% are non-Whites[footnoteRef:2]. It is a seldom admitted fact that the quickest growing prison group is that of African-American females, while Native Americans constitute the biggest population per capita. Roughly 5 million individuals (which include individuals on bail and probation) are under the direct observation of the nation's crime justice system. [2: Ibid]



Thirty years back, the incarcerated population stood at roughly 1/8th of its size at present. Although females continue to make up a fairly small share of detained individuals, the current number of imprisoned females in the state of California alone stands at roughly two times the countrywide female prisoner population reported in the year 1970. Elliott Currie claims prisons are growing into such a menacing presence within US society as has never been felt before, anywhere across the world's industrialized democracies. Apart from key wars, mass imprisonment is the most comprehensively executed governmental social initiative of the current age.[footnoteRef:3] [3: Elliott Currie. Crime and punishment in America. (Macmillan, 2013).]



For delivering up groups ordained for gainful sentencing, jailhouses' political economy banks on racialized presuppositions of criminality (including pictures of African-American welfare moms giving birth to criminals) and discriminatory practices in the trends of detaining, convicting and sentencing. Non-White bodies make up the chief human resource within this massive experiment for eradicating the key social issues of the present age. After stripping away the air of magic from the incarceration solution, bloodsucking capitalist profit, racism, and class bias remain. Jails' industrial system ethically and materially weakens inmates, consuming the societal wealth necessary for dealing with the very issues which have resulted in an escalation in the prison population.



With prisons occupying increasingly more presence on the societal landscape, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and other such governmental initiatives which have earlier attempted at reacting to societal wants are being wiped out. The decline of the public education system, which includes prioritization of safety and correction over academic learning within public schools situated in underprivileged areas, is associated directly with the prison "solution."[footnoteRef:4] [4: Cassia Spohn, "Race, crime, and punishment in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries." Crime and Justice 44, no. 1 (2015): 49-97.]

Drivers of Disparity



Relentless racial inequalities have, since long, remained the focus of criminological studies, with scholars agreeing to the existence of inequalities. The many explanations offered for the aforementioned inequalities extend from differences in offending on the basis of race to prejudiced decision-making within the crime justice system. This includes multiple elements at the individual level, like penury, joblessness, offending history and education outcomes[footnoteRef:5].

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Studies into this domain reveal relatively little unjustified disparity for major crimes such as homicide as compared to smaller offences (particularly drug offences). [5: Supra note 1]



The efforts of Alfred Blumstein in this field, which encompassed an exploration of racial disparities in apprehensions and a comparison of these with prison demographics, established that around eighty percent of the prison inequality in state inmates in the year 1979 was accounted for by differential crime by race, with the remaining twenty percent left unaccounted for[footnoteRef:6]. The author observed that in the absence of discrimination following apprehension, inmates' racial composition ought to approximate arrestees' population. The biggest quantity of unaccounted-for variation was witnessed in case of drug crimes: almost fifty percent of inmate racial differences in individuals charged with drug crimes couldn't be accounted for by apprehension. A follow-up research by the author demonstrated that the share of racial differences in jails accounted for by apprehensions in the year 1991 had reduced to seventy-six percent[footnoteRef:7]. Succeeding researches replicated the above work, with newer information, revealing even greater unaccounted-for variations, especially in drug seizures. [6: Alfred Blumstein. "Racial disproportionality in prison." In Race and social problems, pp. 187-193. (Springer New York, 2015).] [7: Ibid]



One of the problems broached by Blumstein's line of attack is: the employment of apprehension records to reflect criminal participation is perhaps more precise in case of serious crimes as compared to less serious ones. In case of the latter, authorities can exert more discretion during apprehension. Studies into causes for sentencing demonstrate that in case of relatively minor offences, judges may deviate from legal constraints, enabling the entry of other factors into their decisions[footnoteRef:8]. Such factors may include types of racial prejudice associated with sensed racial threat. In spite of the potential of not accounting for all variations, researches which depend on incident self-reporting instead of police intelligence for circumventing these possible issues also indicate unaccounted-for racial differences. [8: Jeffery Ulmer, Noah Painter-Davis, and Leigh Tinik. "Disproportional imprisonment of Black and Hispanic males: Sentencing discretion, processing outcomes, and policy structures." Justice Quarterly 33, no. 4 (2016): 642-681.]



Examinations of latest facts all arrive at comparable conclusions: the nation is unable to account for a generous share of racial differences in prison by criminal offenses. A few studies concentrate on one state only whereas other researches examine all states separately and observe their disparity range. Researches examining regional disparities in states are informative as well[footnoteRef:9]. Researches into county-level disparities in the domain of juvenile justice results discovered that individual-level properties do not singlehandedly impact outcomes. Rather, the minor's residential community composition also plays a role. Researches attempting at better understanding procedures between apprehension and incarceration, especially at the sentencing phase, have been engaged in for acquiring a better grasp of the unaccounted-for discrepancies in state detention centers. [9: Richard J. Stringer, and Melanie M. Holland. "It's not all black and white: A propensity score matched, multilevel examination of racial drug sentencing disparities." Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice 14, no. 4 (2016): 327-347.]

Causes of Disparity



Study findings record prevalent racial differences in state incarceration, and clarify the fact that in spite of increased public awareness of mass imprisonment and a small deal of moderate success in achieving decarceration, ethnic and racial inequalities continue to be a significant aspect of America's prison system. The following three recurring justifications for racial differences arise out of several researches into the subject: procedures and policies driving disparity; the impact of inherent….....

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References

Blumstein, Alfred. "Racial disproportionality in prison." In Race and social problems, pp. 187-193. Springer New York, 2015.

Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo. Racism without racists: Color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in America. Rowman & Littlefield, 2017.

Currie, Elliott. Crime and punishment in America, Macmillan, 2013

de Blasio, Hon Bill, and City Hall. "Re: Mass Incarceration: Seizing the Moment for Reform." (2015).

Hetey, Rebecca C., and Jennifer L. Eberhardt. "Racial disparities in incarceration increase acceptance of punitive policies." Psychological science (2014): 0956797614540307.

Kutateladze, Besiki L., Nancy R. Andiloro, Brian D. Johnson, and Cassia C. Spohn. "Cumulative disadvantage: Examining racial and ethnic disparity in prosecution and sentencing." Criminology 52, no. 3 (2014): 514-551.

Rothwell, Jonathan. Drug offenders in American prisons: The critical difference between stock and flow. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, (2015).

Schneiderman, Eric T., NYS Attorney General, and Civil Rights Bureau. "A report on arrests arising from the New York City Police Department's stop-and-frisk practices." New York State Office of the Attorney General, New York (2013).

Spohn, Cassia. "Race, crime, and punishment in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries." Crime and Justice 44, no. 1 (2015): 49-97.

Stringer, Richard J., and Melanie M. Holland. "It's not all black and white: A propensity score matched, multilevel examination of racial drug sentencing disparities." Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice 14, no. 4 (2016): 327-347.

Ulmer, Jeffery, Noah Painter-Davis, and Leigh Tinik. "Disproportional imprisonment of Black and Hispanic males: Sentencing discretion, processing outcomes, and policy structures." Justice Quarterly 33, no. 4 (2016): 642-681.

Unnever, James D., and Francis T. Cullen. "THE SOCIAL SOURCES OF AMERICANS'PUNITIVENESS: A TEST OF THREE COMPETING MODELS." Criminology 48, no. 1 (2010): 99-129.

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