(CBS Charlotte) — More people are incarcerated in the United States than in any other country in the world. Past that troubling statistic, there are huge racial disparities throughout prisons in our country.
African-American individuals are imprisoned at over six times the rate of white individuals, and they account for around 60 percent of the United States prison population.
There are a plethora of stereotypes and misguided viewpoints that surround the African-American population. These stereotypes perpetuate the belief that African-Americans are more likely to deal drugs, commit crimes, and/or carry guns. Statistically, black individuals have more encounters with law enforcement officials than Caucasians. Moreover, during these encounters, blacks are more likely to be searched and arrested than whites.
Even as youth, black children are punished more severely and more frequently throughout their schooling. As it stands, 70 percent of student arrests were comprised of black or Hispanic students — a sign that racial profiling not only exists on our streets, but it also exists in our schools. By the time black youth graduate, they have seemingly grown accustomed to being targeted more than their white classmates.
In terms of drug use, white individuals and black individuals both use drugs at around the same rate, however, blacks are more likely to be arrested for drug possession. For marijuana offenses, blacks are nearly four times more likely to be arrested than whites.
What’s more alarming, perhaps, is that black individuals receive roughly 10 percent longer sentences than white offenders — even when the SAME crime had been committed.
Racial disparities within the Criminal Justice System can easily be categorized as a civil rights crisis, but despite its impact on the African-America community, little has been done to change this inequality. Until these issues are addressed and changed, racial justice in America will remain a distant dream.
-Nichole Jaworski, CBS Charlotte