American prisons exhibit a trend of disparity of the minority inmate population. Disparity occurs most in the minority population due to high crime rates within their communities mainly because of social isolation and the way the judicial system operates. Why is it that minorities are most likely to be incarcerated? Is it because of the lack of education, poverty, social and economic isolation or is it because of racial profiling? Racial disparity in the criminal justice system is widespread and it threatens to challenge the fact that our judicial system is fair and effective.
According to the National Report Series Juvenile Justice Bulletin (1999):
African Americans make up 13 percent of the general US population, but they constitute 28
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“African Americans were arrested six times the rate for Caucasians for murder, robbery, and gambling and were overrepresented in certain offenses except alcohol related crimes. Native Americans were arrested at 1.5 times the rate for Caucasians, with higher disparity for certain violent and public order offenses. Asian Pacific Islanders were the only racial group to be underrepresented compared to Caucasians” (Hartney & Vuong, 2009). When it came to court processing, African Americans were more likely to be sentenced to prison and less likely to be sentenced to probation than Caucasians. The average prison sentence for violent crime was one year longer for African Americans than for Caucasians (Snyder & Sickmund, 1999). African Americans were suspected for drug charges at higher rates than Caucasians (Mauer & King, 2007). According to The Sentencing Project Bulletin, “African Americans were admitted to prison at a rate almost six times higher than that for Caucasians. Hispanics were admitted at twice the rate for Whites. Native Americans were admitted at over four times the rate for Caucasians. Native American females were admitted at over six times and African American females at four times the rate for Caucasian females” (Mauer & King, 2007). The rates of new admissions due to probation or