The American prison system is unlike any other in the world. It’s sprawling, expensive and largely ineffective at reducing crime or rehabilitating offenders. But in recent years, politicians and citizens alike have grown weary of the “tough on crime” policies that inflated the nation’s inmate population and made the U.S. the world’s leading jailer. Now they’re calling for reform.
The Criminal Justice System’s Disproportionate Impact
The report cites a large body of research from multiple disciplines — economics, sociology, psychology and criminology — that has found that for similar offenses, blacks and Hispanics face a higher likelihood of arrest and conviction than whites, as well as harsher penalties. And even though blacks and Hispanics are no more likely to be found in possession of illegal goods, they are more likely to be stopped and searched by police — which in turn increases arrest rates.
Researchers also found that black defendants are 24 percent more likely to be convicted if their trial has a jury chosen from an all-white pool of jurors and that prosecutors are 75 percent more likely to charge black defendants with offenses that carry mandatory minimums. And if convicted, black defendants regularly receive longer sentences than whites for similar crimes. These trends mean minorities are more likely than white defendants to have an existing criminal record when they are charged with a new crime, which increases severity of punishment.
WHITEHOUSE.GOV has removed this report, some of it captured here and here