More young African Americans in prison than any other race – shocking huh?
Posted on 07/29/2003 12:37:05 PM PDT by new cruelty
The latest study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that one-third of all inmates under state or federal jurisdiction have two things in common; they are under 30 years old and they are black.
According to the report dated December 31, 2002, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported 10.4 percent of the country’s entire black male population, between the ages of 25 and 29, were in prison.
That is in comparison to 2.4 percent of Hispanic males and 1.2 percent of white males in the same age group.
But why are there such a larger percentage of young black men in prison compared to other races?
“A significant factor has to do with the war on drugs,” said U of H law professor Sandy Guerra Thompson. “First, there was a decision to devote lots of police resources to fighting drugs. Secondly, the kinds of tactics used, such as racial profiling, tend to focus more of the attention on blacks than others. And then third, the sentencing laws are such that a person convicted of crack cocaine will be punished more severely than someone who’s convicted of powder cocaine. The dealers of crack tend to be African American and the dealers of powder tend to be white.”
Thompson says that because Congress has determined that crack is a more dangerous drug, it should be punished more severely. But Thompson says it creates too much of a disparity.
The vast majority of people who are convicted of dealing in powder cocaine are white. But they might get a sentence of a few years, two, five, so they might be out of prison relatively soon, compared to a crack cocaine dealer who gets 10, 15,” said Thompson.
It doesn’t take very long before the numbers of African Americans convicted start to mount at the federal level.
But at the state level, experts say there have been many lawsuits challenging racial profiling. Officials say the establishments of drug courts in Dallas, Conroe, and now in Houston, could help reduce severe sentencing for drug-related cases.
Officials with the Texas American Civil Liberties Union say the nation has developed an addiction to prison and that we need to find less costly and more effective policies like treatment programs.