The Black Chronicles

The Color Of Prisons: Mass Incarceration of Black America

Here’s a quick disgusting fact from Ashley Nellis before we begin, African Americans are incarcerated in state prisons across America at more than five times the rate of whites, and at least ten times the rate in five states. This documents the rates of three race groups, whites, African Americans, and Hispanics in each state. In five states (Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont, and Wisconsin), the disparity is more than 10 to 1.

Modern Slavery

We all know that the legal institution of slavery in the United States ended in 1865 with the passing of the 13th Amendment. However, the signs and badges of slavery are clearly still around when African Americans’ constitutional rights are violated and marginalized to this day. The 15th Amendment was passed to ensure that newly freed slaves had the right to vote, permanently. Unfortunately, if you have not been living under a rock, you can see how this American system has denied African Americans the right to vote under various state disenfranchisement laws! Yes, these laws have been upheld in most states and achieve just what the slave masters wanted, to prevent African Americans from exercising their constitutional right to vote just like in the Black Codes days.

The number of African Americans incarcerated in state and federal prisons are so high that its laughable. In 2005, 12% of African American males in their late 20s were in prison or jail. The United States and England are among the industrial nations with the highest rate of individuals incarcerated in the world. In mid 2005, there were 2.2 million people incarcerated in the United States, of that 2.2 million, 543,000 were African American males. Black males in England and the United States of America share the same fate when it comes to the prison systems.

Investing in Prisons

Multiple states have invested billion of dollars in building new prisons to house the flood of minorities who are on track to become incarcerated, specifically, African American males. The Justice Department reported about 1 in 3 African American males are expected to go to prison during their lifetime, if current incarceration rates stay the same. An estimated 22% of African American males ages 35 to 44 had been confined in state or federal prison.

The War on Drugs

The United States “War on drugs” has resulted in a huge amount of African Americans being sentenced to prison. The war on drugs policy was a present-day Black Code that resulted in African American males being targeted and sentenced to prison for an extended period of time.

The obvious question we all have here is, why is it that African American males get sent to jail more often for a non-violent drug offense as opposed to white males? it’s no surprise that a white male would most likely be able to walk away as a free man, while an African American man will most likely serve some type of sentence in the prison system, this injustice has cause African Americans to receive unjust penalties for misdemeanor crimes. This act of injustice causes the unemployment rates of African Americans to increase and now our women must work harder than needed to sustain a stable household. The ACLU reported, “65.4 percent of prisoners serving (life without parle) for non-violent offenses are African Americans, while only 17.8 percent are white and 15.7 are Hispanic.” This shows how African Americans are receiving harder sentences and more arrests compared to others for these crimes.

“American prisons have become warehouses for the mentally ill. Mass incarceration has been largely ruled by misguided drug policy and excessive sentencing, but the internment of hundreds of thousands of poor and mentally ill people has been a driving force in achieving our record levels of imprisonment.”
― Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

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