Crime is a significant social problem that surrounds the inner-city communities. Crime is detrimental to minorities, and prevalently confines them in a poverty-cycle. The legal system has never permitted itself to be fair (in regards to minorities. In the 19th century, the United States created more prisons than schools, and the government continues to follow the same formula, today. My father resolutely advised me of the U.S. prison system and how destructive it was for minorities. He told me about the racial disparities within the legal system, and the prejudice practices law enforcement is entailed to follow. This information was difficult to believe as a child, but I periodically depicted communities and their relations with law enforcement. Finally, I came across a book titled, “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander. The book presents firm evidence of the disadvantages minorities endure within the American legal system.
Michelle Alexander, presented superb evidence. Her book is heavily supported with statistical data. Nonviolent crimes have been preceded to be detrimental and disastrous for citizens residing within inner-cities. Crime is a contagious and continuous social problem minorities continue to encounter. Most crimes start from individuals at a young age. A 2010 study found that 70 percent of students who are involved in school related arrested were Black and Latino (Hagler, Jamal. Center for American Progress. 2015). Black students are three times more likely to be suspended or expelled compared to their white students. (Hagler) Minority students are overwhelmingly punished more severely than white students. Suburban schools are less likely to suspend their students compared to students in inner-city communities. “Sixteen percent of black students were suspended in 2011-12 school year, compared to 5 percent of white students.” The effects of student suspensions and expulsions are detrimental. Suspended students may resort to loathsomeness. Of course, most individuals that do not complete school lead themselves to a destructive pathway, often, leading themselves to a corrupted legal system, that will caste human beings in the lower-class of society.
Black juveniles are disproportionally misrepresented in the legal system. “In 2014, juveniles of color represented 67 percent of individuals incarcerated, nearly twice their representation in the United States” (Hagler). Black children are targeted by the United States prison system. Most prisoners are incarcerated for drug-related crimes. The prison population in the last three decades has grown exponentially. The primary reasons for the increase of prisoners were the drug policies set at hand by the Reagan Administration (along with George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton). “The Justice Department announced its intention to cut half the number of specialist assigned to identify and prosecute white-collar criminals and to shift its attention to street crime, especially drug-law enforcement”. (Alexander, 49). In 1982, Reagan created the War on Drugs initiative. He created this policy, albeit less than two percent of Americans believed drugs to be a national issue. The pernicious penalties intended for nonviolent drug offenses created a nontrivial hardship in the inner-cities of America.
Minorities were now the focus point of the War on Drugs policies. The most racist group in the United States vowed to partake in Reagan’s plan of action. “The Ku Klux Klan, which announced in 1990 that it intended to join the battle against illegal drugs, by becoming the eyes and ears of the police.” (55). Surely, the KKK did not have any ambitions to seek white citizens committing drug-related crimes. The infamous group confounded themselves to target minorities, just as the police did and continue to do. Alexander expresses, “ninety percent of those admitted to prison for drug offenses in many states were black and Latino” (58). Nine of ten individuals arrested for drug related crimes in some states are minorities. One may conclude to believe minorities are ninety percent of the drug users and abusers in America. Unfortunately, that assumption is completely false. Alexander explains, “White students use cocaine at seven times the rate of black students, use crack-cocaine at eight times the rate of black students” (99). Yet, black men have been admitted to prison more than thirteen times higher than white men (100). In the last ten years, the homicide offenders accounted for 0.4 percent of the federal prison population growth, while drug offenders account for nearly 61 percent of that expansion (101). Drug offenses have unanimously compromised the prison population. And to make matters worse, blacks have become a large contribution to the United States prison industry. Minorities are the cardinal targets for drug arrest, although, whites are more prone to drug abuse and distribution.
The American perception of drug users was propagandized by the mainstream media to tarnish the image of African Americans. In a survey, 95 percent of respondents pictured a black drug user, while 5 percent imagined other racial groups. African Americans only constitute 15 percent of drug users. Whites constitute a vast majority of the drug users today (106).
Although, hundreds of outdoor transactions were recorded in predominately white neighborhoods of Seattle, police concentrated their drug enforcement efforts in one downtown drug market where the frequency of drug transactions was much lower (127). Police are not actually focused on arresting drug criminals; instead, they are interested in arresting a particular set of drug offenders. To further support my claim of racial bias, “In Volusia County, Florida, a reporter obtained 148 hours of video footage documenting more than 1,000 highway stops conducted by state troopers. Only 5 percent of the drivers on the road were African American or Latino, but more than 80 percent of the people stopped and search were minorities (134).
Drug-offenses in the United States are detrimental for Black Americans. The basic, civil rights for drug criminals are essentially disowned by the system. They are not able to vote, live in public housing, receive loans, and may be firmly incapable of receiving a decent paying job to provide for his family. Americans should be concerned about the comparative analysis between poverty and prison. The two variables are hand in hand. “Two-thirds of criminals detained in jails reported the annual incomes under 12,000” (155).The recidivism rate in the United States prison system is more than 60 percent. Prisons are no longer rehabilitation centers. The prison system truly does not have concern for the human beings they control. I say this statement for few reasons. The United States has the largest prison population in the world. The prison system has a grand opportunity to educate prisoners and develop their knowledge and skills to assist them when reenter society. So often, minorities are subjected to recidivism because of the harsh economic reality they must endure. One must recognize the charges for drug-offenders are non-violent crimes. These former criminals should not suffer from economic endowment. The United States prison system should focus their financial budgets on the mentoring and rehabilitation of the human beings enslaved in their institution.