Analysis Essay on White Inmates on the Rise in US Prison Populations

Published: 2021-07-28
934 words
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University of California, Santa Barbara
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Prison populations are composed of various groups. This group has increased in the recent past as incarceration is mostly applied as a form of punishment (Cole, 9). According to US Bureau of Justice statistics data, a rapid increase in the prison population was recorded from 1986. The shift represents a 500 percent rise in the past forty years. There have been modifications in the sentencing decree and policies which can significantly be attributed to this increase.

Despite the understanding that large-scale detention is not the most operative means of achieving public protection, penal system has been upheld and expanded leading to overcrowding in prisons. The information provides that white population has increased from 41.9% to 48.3% of the jail inmates. This is despite a decrease of the population in the country and currently hitting 63% (Andrews & Bonta, 39). The expectation would be a decrease in the number of white inmates with population decrease, but this is not the case.

While the typical argument would eliminate the chances of many non-Hispanic whites from these correctional facilities, statistics show a higher percentage and a rising trend. Despite these findings, the crude comparison of inmates should consider factors such as age structure rather than demography to understand the situation at hand. Various considerations need to be analyzed to understand the recorded changes. Drug addiction increases the risk of incarceration; this can be attributed to an increase in drug and substance abuse and the justice system data compared to health data proves an increasing misery in quite a large section of the population.

Drug-related offenses contribute to the highest percentage in the correctional facilities currently at 46.3% (Mustard, 290). This shows that more whites are being convicted of these crimes. Increased use of alcohol and opioid addiction, after speculation, are cases related to a large population of the inmates. Sex offenses are recorded to contribute 9.1% of the total population in the prisons and can be a severe cause for Whites incarceration.

Most inmates are described to have completed high school education, and hence this provides an argument that the education system is not tailored to provide employment opportunities at this level. This can thus be attributed to the increase in young inmates who resort to drug abuse and criminal activities. The disparities in the jails, considering black/Hispanic and white inmates differ considerably showing 50 percent Black/Hispanic population in the prisons though they comprise approximately 30 percent of the total US population (Mustard, 286). The risk of imprisonment dramatically varies with age, and the alterations in age structure account for imprisonment disproportions. The increase in the white community can be attributed to the strict drug laws and lengthy sentences for drug-related crimes. In the US the shortest conviction for a drug-related offense is 23 months. More whites are currently serving a mandatory sentence for methamphetamine abuse. Prescription opioid and heroin epidemics are also considered alongside methamphetamine abuse, and they seem to be considerably affecting the white population. This has, therefore, increased their percentages in the correctional facilities.

Comparing with the cocaine crack an epidemic that swept through the black community, heroin epidemic is seen to be a phenomenon repeating itself in the white population (Andrews & Bonta, 39). There has also been a declining trend in the blacks arrest rates. This difference increases the white faces in the prisons. This aspect of disparities aside, data at hand shows drug war exploitation by law enforcers resulting to low-level, nonviolent offenders in jail for life. Socioeconomic shifts have significantly affected the white population and specifically the white women (Covington & Barbara, 18). These disproportionate effects have resulted to offenses leading to jail terms. There are many people in jails due to fraud, extortion, embezzlement, property offenses, burglary et cetera. These are considered as the most common crimes related to white population.

The rate of incarceration is related to age among different races. The age-crime curve shows a sharp escalation in felonious activities through adolescence and declines after that (Covington & Barbara, 15). Despite non-identical parameters of the offending in an age-crime curve, a universal curve is usually right skewed and unimodal shape. This trend shows that most growing populations have the highest number of offenders ending in correctional facilities. The nature of offenses will significantly vary for these offenders and issues such as occupational crimes are limited in these populations.

In comparison with other countries, America has the highest incarceration rate. The analysis shows an increase in the white population in prisons than any other place in the world and the number of the black prison population is decreasing. This trend has been attributed to various factors such as socioeconomic shifts, the drug war, Education, population structure, law enforcement and federal policies on crime (Covington & Barbara, 20). However, drug-related arrests account for a significant percentage in the prisons with one individual among five people imprisoned for this cause. It is provided that more than 3 million people are held prisons and correctional facilities in the United States (Cole, 10). This state is alarming since, in other countries such as the Netherlands, prisons are being closed down. It is reported that between 2000 and 2009 the rate of white women imprisonment increased by 47.1 percent and that of men rising by 8.5 percent (Mustard, 310).

Works Cited

Andrews, Donald A., and James Bonta. "Rehabilitating criminal justice policy and practice."Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 16.1 (2010): 39.

Cole, David. No equal justice: Race and class in the American criminal justice system. Vol. 1.New York: New Press, 1999.

Mustard, David B. "Racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in sentencing: Evidence from the USfederal courts." The Journal of Law and Economics 44.1 (2001): 285-314.

Covington, Stephanie, and Barbara Bloom. "Gendered justice: Women in the criminal justicesystem." Gendered justice: Addressing female offenders (2003): 3-23.

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