THE DISPARITY IN SENTENCING AMONGST MINORITY PRISONERS
Although some say the disparity of minority to white prison sentences are due to repeat offenses by second and third time offenders, the disparity in the population between black and white Americans in the U.S. doesn't support the fact there are more blacks than whites in American prisons. The make- up of judges, juries and law enforcement officials in the judicial system are a factor. A larger percentage of white defendants come before a judge then black defendants, however the conviction rate and sentences imposed for blacks is higher for the same relative crimes committed. The high prison disparity amongst minorities is due to the manner in which the judicial system operates in America. The racial inequality of lawmakers in the court system, American Cultural and societal issues such as racial discrimination and presumptive sentencing guidelines are a few points I will discuss in this paper.
Racism in American society plays a part in manner the judicial system has determined sentencing. The American prison population is larger than at any time in the history of the penal system in the world. Nearly half of the more than two million Americans behind bars are African Americans. These statistics are well known and frequently cited by white and black Americans; for many they define Black humanity. (Ryan D. King, 2010) According to Thorsten Sellin’s research in “The Negro criminal”; a statistical note (Sellin, 1928) “the stigmatization of crime as “black” and the masking of crime among whites as isolated failure, was a practice of discriminatory views by the majority white population. “The practice of linking crime to blacks, as a racial group, but not whites, he concluded, reinforced and reproduced racial inequality.” (Sellin, 1928)Moreover,” the belief in a higher criminality is significant in the creation of racial attitudes toward him on the part of white”. Thorsten later concluded “Speaking as a representative of the white majority in a Jim Crow nation, he exposed the unreliability of racial crime statistics and the deeply troubling ways in which blackness and criminality shaped racial identity and racial oppression in modern America” (Sellin, 1928). The feeling that crime was associated with being black lent to discriminatory feelings for generations. Minority crime statistics are omnipresent. Statistics on white crime remain for the most part unseen, except when used to exacerbate excessive criminality of African Americans.” (Mohammed, 07/2010) “Prison statistics became the basis of a national discussion after the 1890 census concerning blacks as a distinct and dangerous criminal population”. (pg. 3) White America being a discriminatory community with the power to define those outside it, used the court system as a mechanism of punishment and segregation.
The predominantly white make-up policy makers; law enforcement officials and jurors in the judicial system, mirror...