Black Men Still Incarcerated at Disproportionate Levels

The result is a continuing cycle of poverty and incarceration that has a devastating impact on families for generations. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent

The fact that African Americans make up a disproportionate amount of the United States’ prison population remains a defining characteristic of the nation’s criminal justice system, and though the latest numbers from the U.S. Sentencing Commission show a gradual change, many organizations said it’s still cause for alarm.

The most recent available report shows that African Americans comprise only about 12 percent of the total population in America, but still represent 33 percent of the federal and state prison population.

By contrast, 64 percent of American adults are white, but just 30 percent of those individuals are locked up.

It’s statistics like those that have some organizations and media outlets trying to get to the bottom of why America continues to lock up African-Americans, particularly Black men. (The Vera Institute have continued to write about this issue and CNN now has a series called “The Redemption Project with Van Jones,” which airs Sundays at 9 p.m.)

According to the most recent U.S. Sentencing Report, which analyzed data over five years from 2012 to 2016, black men serve sentences that are on average 19.1 percent longer than those for white men with similar crimes.

Without considering all of the facts involved per case, some might argue that criminal history and other mitigating circumstances come into play when a judge imposes a sentence – regardless of color.

However, the Commission’s report also debunks that view.

“Violence in an offender’s criminal history does not appear to contribute to the sentenced imposed,” according to the authors of the Commission’s study.

When accounting for violence in an offender’s past, black men received sentences that were on average 20.4 percent longer than that of white men, the report noted.

The nonprofit Sentencing Project found that Black men are nearly six times as likely as white men to be incarcerated and for Black men in their 30s, one in every 10 are in prison or jail on any given day.

Though the gap is closing presumably because of stiffer policing in rural and predominately white areas and the opioid epidemic that’s hit white areas hardest, agencies in cities around the country are still trying to offer ways to stop the mass incarceration of blacks.

According to a report from the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA), if you are poor in New York City – especially if you’re a low-income person of color – there’s an increased likelihood that you’ll be drawn into the criminal justice system.

And once justice-involved, climbing out of poverty becomes harder, the report said.

Also, the report’s authors said the local government should be doing more to support those who are justice-involved, including those who are formerly incarcerated and those with parole, probation, and community supervision.

These individuals and their families struggle with access to housing, employment, educational opportunities, and meeting health and mental health needs and experience a patchwork of services that are under-resourced and not targeted to meet the complex challenges that come before, during, and after justice involvement, FPWA officials said.

The result is a continuing cycle of poverty and incarceration that has a devastating impact on families for generations, they said.

“If we are serious about ending mass incarceration, if we want to disrupt systems that criminalize the poor, we must better utilize and resource the organizations that are already providing critical services in these communities,” Jennifer Jones Austin, FPWA CEO and Executive Director, said in a news release.

“Systemic racism drives both poverty and the mass incarceration of low-income people, especially people of color. This cycle of poverty and criminal justice involvement feeds on itself and creates herculean barriers to achieving economic and social advancement, for those who have been justice involved and for their loved ones,” Jones said.

“There are proven ways to support communities experiencing high levels of poverty, income insecurity and incarceration. Human services organizations are a key part of those solutions,” she said.

There’s a need for more resources, “more compassion, and more political will to end the poverty to prison pipeline and we must also recognize the role of intergenerational trauma in creating the pipeline and provide mental health and trauma-informed services to those who are justice-impacted,” said Michael A. Lindsey, Ph.D., MSW, MPH, Executive Director of the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University.

“As recommended, let’s create a ‘trauma-informed New York,’ where health and human service providers, managed care companies, policymakers, governmental agencies, and community and faith leaders, have the tools to effectively work together to solve this crisis,” Lindsey said.

1 Comment

  1. lee Hendrix on April 30, 2019 at 7:31 pm

    After the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, the Jewish people made and worshipped a golden calf. In the Torah’s description of the induction of the Levites as they began their new role (Numbers 8:16–18), G‑d tells Moses: “For they [the Levites] are wholly given over to Me from among the children of Israel; instead of those that open the womb all the firstborn of Israel I have taken them for Myself . . .”,…Here’s a Dose…”You shall not make for yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” 2016: for reasons unknown(PSYCHOSIS), the British have decided, again, to break with the Albino pact or( Negro LEPROSY): and agreed to teach that Blacks were the original settlers of Europe. Points of Racism, that Jesus is not pictured as Cesare Borgia. But, necessarily…Borgia is worshipped by obtuse persons’ as conforming Christians. But, considering this is definitely a picture of a male man, should it not be removed? Especially in light of the verse in Exodus 20:4? Why do Christians worship Cesare Borgia’s image as Jesus? Don’t Christians realize that the images they have in their churches and homes are portraits of Cesare Borgia? 1492 goes down as the year that the entire planet was hoodwinked by the Roman Catholic Church. During Alexander VI’s term, the Christians were fighting the Holy Crusades against the so-called infidels (a person who do not acknowledge your god). The enemy that the church was fighting was the northward movement of Islam as far up into Europe like Germany.—These Middle Eastern Islamics— took control of Constantinople in Turkey and threatened the stronghold that the Roman Empire and in turn the church (of Christian People) had on the world at the time. Pope Alexander used the age-old tactic of discrediting an opponent to weaken his position.–One major obstacle that faced Alexander and the church was the fact that Jesus, who their entire religion was based on was physically the same as the Islamics that they were fighting against–.***He (JESUS) was represented in all paintings, carvings, and sculptures as the dark-skinned man of Middle Eastern origin that he was ***—. Nazareth certainly was in the Middle Eastern area that later came under the influence of Islam. How could they possibly convince their constituency of the wickedness of the enemy when their own messiah looked like them? —Although the original Roman Christians were certainly Middle Eastern people of color,— by the time Alexander ascended to the papacy(The government of the Roman Catholic Church), Europeans had long taken control of the church. *Pope Alexander VI’s solution* was to have every image of the real Jesus destroyed* and literally had the Vatican gutted and redone. He commissioned Leonardo Di Vinci to recast Jesus in the image of his son Cesare Borgia with the express intent of passing off historical Jesus as European in appearance. To this day, there are armed guards stationed around the clock at the entrances of the catacombs to keep anyone from viewing the original wall carvings of Jesus in his legitimate ethnic representation.

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