Racial Inequalities in Conviction and Sentencing

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Even after decades of public discourse on the inequality of the criminal justice system, the United States continues to punish minorities, especially African Americans, who are arrested at rates far higher than Caucasians who are arrested. A new study by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency reveals little progress has been made in reforming a system of courts and prisons that has claimed an overrepresentation of African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans in comparison to their composition in the U.S. population.

White Americans make up 67% of the U.S. population and 70% of those arrested, but only 40% of those who end up being sentenced to prison or jail and 56% of those on death row. African Americans, on the other hand, account for only 28% of Americans who are arrested, but constitute 40% of inmates held in prisons and jails, and 42% of inmates on death row.
The average prison sentence for a violent crime is about one year longer for African Americans than for Caucasians. African American youths are seven times more likely to be sentenced to an adult prison than are White youth.
-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff
Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the US Criminal Justice System (by Christopher Hartney and Linh Vuong, National Council on Crime and Delinquency) (PDF)


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