Structured Inequality and Incarceration

2849 words 12 pages
Structured Inequality and Incarceration
Lori Young
Chamberlain College of Nursing

Abstract When it comes to arrest and incarceration, black men are overrepresented in comparison to Hispanics and whites. Over forty years ago the Civil Rights Act was implemented and racism still continues today due in part to a form of cultural imagery. This structured inequality is evident in the politics of government and all levels of the criminal justice system. The very system that is to be fair has been found to be racially disparate in the treatment of blacks. The causes and existence of this state has been researched for over the last twenty years as to it why does it exist, what are the consequences and how to correct it.

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An open air drug market is easier for police to see activity, than in suburbia or concentrated white areas, where drug dealing is done behind doors. Socioeconomic status, as in being black in an urban area, carries with it a lack of support services and resources which may make it difficult to avoid criminal activity such as drug possession and dealing (O'Hear, 2009). The 1980’s saw the advent of the “war on drugs” as promoted by the Reagan administration. The premise behind this was to arrest drug kingpins, and with harsh sentencing, inhibit or decrease the illegal drug trade in our country. This new harsher sentencing policy was directed toward the drugs crack cocaine and powder cocaine. The reality was that due to the minimum quantity required for arrest, only low level street dealers are usually arrested (Gotsch, 2011). These two forms of cocaine are chemically similar but the proponents of The Anti-Drug Abuse Acts of 1986 and 1989 succeeded in mandating some of the harshest penalties based on what drug was in possession. Crack cocaine possession had a higher penalty, as in five and ten year mandatory sentencing, at a higher threshold rate resulting in a 100 to 1 sentencing disparity (Gotsch, 2011). This translates into meaning a possession of five grams of crack cocaine would receive a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.


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