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Incarceration policy

Leiani Celestan

Table of Contents

Problem Statement……………………………………………………………………….3

Literature Review……………



Discussion of Findings…………………………………………………………






Works Cited………………………………………………………………



Problem statement The justice system was created to serve and guide the people. It is how people are

judged and what is seen as right and wrong. In the United States the justice system is a key

component to the how citizens interact with the government. If the justice system is being


abused it could affect citizens and their reaction on particular issues. For example the justice

system has been abusive to black bodies so interest groups like Black Lives Matter has lead

protest and spoken out about how the justice system needs to be change in order adequately

give all people the justice they deserve.

The justice system was created with policies which have developed into the modern

justice system we have today. Its sole purpose is to protect the innocent and punish the guilty.

However, since this has been in place it has failed to protect all people. Currently black people

make up 13.3% of the United States population however 35% of jails and 37% of the prison

system. With that, out of 100,000 black people, 2,200 black people are incarcerated, In

comparison to 100,000 white people, 380 of them are incarcerated (Wagner 2012). Due to the

pattern of school to prison pipeline and racial profiling these statistics are consistently rising.

For instance black people are 7 times more likely to be wrongly convicted of murder than white

people in the US (Lopez, Zarracina 2017) Within Juvenile facilities “African American juveniles

were more than 10 times as likely as white juveniles to be committed to secure facilities.” This is

due to the school to prison pipeline system which works in sending a high portion of black youth

into incarceration from schools. This system has become a trend were schools are able to

funnel youth from the education system into the juvenile and prison system. With policies like

“zero-tolerance” schools are able to “criminalize minor infractions of school rules”. Not to

mention, the fact that schools especially in poverty stricken areas with high minority numbers

have a police on campus leading to students being criminalized for behavior, which is

something that should be handle with then schools, adds to the increasing rate of young black

males being implemented into the prison system. However the blame is not only put to the

presents of police on campus but the fact that the education system has been racially profiling


black students which is another factor and possible the most significant factor as to why they

are not only dropping out of school and missing out on educational opportunities but becoming

incarcerated youth.

The purpose of my research is to analyze the ways in which the justice system can be

improved in order to stop the disportionate rate of black people specifically black men being



Literature Reviews

William J. Moore does an exceptional job in the explanation of how black people have

been targeted in the US. Between 1877’s and 1960’s a collection of laws were put into place

that would establish the system of white supremacy known as Jim Crow Laws. In the late 1870’s

legislations were pass laws that would take away the rights of freed slaves after the civil war. In

1896 the courts made a landmark decision in the court case of Plessy vs. Ferguson

announcement the term “separate but equal”. This would allow for segregation to happen with in

states claiming that even though facilities like bathroom and school would be seperate they

would be “treated as equal.” These laws were in place to not only stop black people from being

able to prosper it played a big role in how they would not only see themselves but how the the

future would be. Being that these laws oppressed black people for so long even today in more

modern time there are laws that [act in replace of Jim crow laws. These laws contribute to the

reason why mass incarceration is a problem today.

Black people and specifically black men have been placed in a system for centuries that

prepare them for containment and pushed into a system like slavery. Moor does a good job at

explaining and analyzing jim crow laws and how they would affect they affected black people on

a large scale. His work would be more effective if he further analyzed how jim crow laws and

modern day laws are similar in ways that they put black men in jail. This would have provided a

deeper analysis of why things like mass incarceration happens. However Moor gives good

evidence on how jim crow laws still affect the way black people are impacted by recent laws .


In order to shed light on the unjust actions against black and brown bodies at the hands

of police, author edmund andrews gives a adequate amount of evidence analyzing the data

taken from traffic stops in North carolina cities. He reveals that blacks and hispanics are more

likely to be stopped yet coppes are less likely to uncover illegal drugs and weapons than whites

and asians. (andrews) researchers at stanford university conducted a test that would analyze

the percentage of drivers that were perceived as suspicious and correlate it to the race and

genders of the driver. The research uncovered that police use a double standard when it comes

to searches. They will search black and hispanics even when they have very little evidence,

rather searching a white or asian person even if evidence is undeniable. Analyst have used two

types of test to analyze racial profiling: benchmarking and hit rate. Benchmarking is referred to

the comparison of of the population of that ethnicity compared to the rate ( in this case) they are

stopped. Therefor, the benchmark test discovered that in north carolina black people make up

10% of the population yet 30% of searches. ( andrews ) when using the hit test researched

discovered that “Police searched 5.4 percent of blacks and 4.1 percent of the Hispanics they

pulled over, but only 3.1 percent of whites”.( andrews). Both test unfolded statistics that would

prove racial discrimination against black and brown bodies. Even with those students

researchers took a step further conducting another test known as the threshold test. This test

would analyze four variables,the race of the driver, department of the officer making the stop,

whether or not a search was conducted, and whether any contrabands were discovered. The

study found that “police decided to search black drivers based on a 7 percent certainty that they

might be hiding something illegal.” ( critique)


These results confirm racial profiling in police and patrol officers. The evidence that

andrews provide gives another

on how mass incarceration of black bodies is happening.

Being that police use racial profiling to stop people traveling it opens doors to many other ways

they can push them into the prison system. As mentioned in Moors findings many modern laws

have been used at the hands of police as a way to conduct unnecessary searches. By police

officers using reasonable suspicion when it is really racial profiling has allowed them to use a

tactic that is called “stop and frisk” as a way to conduct searches. as the evidence shown in

Andrews finding officers usually do not find any contrabands there is still other ways to send

them to jail. One way is giving tickets. Being that you must show up to court for tickets it is easy

for many people to receive a warrant for failure to appear in court resulting in it being easier for

police to send them to jail. One limitation on this study is that Andrew's does not analyze the

percentage of black men that are stopped who are sent to college. This would have given the

research more depth showing how much of an affect racial profiling has on mass incarceration.

School to prison pipeline is also a result of mass incarceration. Segridge Lewis gives an

adequate amount of evidence that the school to prison disproportionately affects black students.

From elementary school black students are being funneled into the prisons. Being that most

schools have no-tolerance act administration leaves law enforcement to handle school issues


rather than keeping them with in the school. This leads to many students being processed into

the system and sent to juvenile correction facilities rather than facing consequences at school.

This style of discipline has mostly affected black students and other students of color. Between

black and white students, black students are “1.9 more likely than white students to be

expelled”. Teachers plays a significant role into why this happens. Without adequate training

teachers make bias decisions between students color and white student that shows systematic

racism. This is what leads to “2.9 black students being more likely to be disciplined through

involvement of officers”(Quinlan 2016). Often teachers take biased sides believing that people

of color are more aggressive than white students. The article gives an important situation

example. He says if a white students in kindergarten bites another students the teacher looks at

it as a phase and does not see it as a threatening issue. However if a black students or other

student of color commits the same act it is seen as aggressive and dangerous behavior that

could develop into something else.

The result of teachers having these views is what leads to many black youth being put

into jail. In florida state black students make up “27% of the county’s public school population”

yet represent “ 51% of students being suspended or sent to a juvenile correctional facility” ( lych

2016) Quinlan does an exceptional job at explaining how the disciplinary acts that are taken in

school is what leads to mass incarceration. When students are being taken out of school for

behavioral issues it leads to an educational gap. This same gap is what leads to students

dropping out at high rates in the black community. “1 in every 4 black man will drop out and

become incarcerated” in comparison to “1 and every 14 white men”. The difference being black

men are more than 3 times likely to drop out and and become incarcerated than white people.

As stated previously by Moor there are many modern laws within law enforcement and other

institution that work as way to to contribute mass incarceration. Being that the there is an


educational gap within students of color and specifically lack students the author gives a good

explanation on why there is often behavioral issues between black students. Being that they are

continually being disciplined and treated with unfair bias it leads to students giving up and

choosing to drop out. These results show that the schooling system plays a enormous role is

funneling black youth and specifically black men into college. By training teachers and

administrators in schools to be none-bias and to practice programs that does not disportionality

send black students to jail or increase the education gap mass incarceration would decrease

within the black community. Also leading to a decrease of high school dropouts.

Scholars article Speaks on how the incarceration of black men leads other black people

to prison around them, at trickling effect. The article states that the effect of a black man going

to jail is so harsh that there is great chance that he will lead others to jail around him as well. He

referred to it as a “ circle of incarceration” (scholars 2016) not only does being incarcerated


leaves a cycle it leaves a higher chance you to going back to jail but it also adds to the fact that

the likelihood of an individual in your family like a son,cousin, or brother being incarcerated as

well. In addition being incarcerated hurts the chance of life after being release and even worse

if you are convicted and incarcerated for something that you did not do. “Black people are 13%

of the population but about 50% of defendants wrongly convicted of a crime” .( scholars 2016)

this study reveals that there is a disportionate percentage between the rate that black and white

people go to prison. The article states that “ one of every 15 black men is held in jail or state or

federal prison, compared to one of every 106 white males” this does a significant job at

explaining how it is possible that black people and white people face different outcomes in

situation like these.( scholars 2016) The arthur doesn't just stop at the percentage of

incarcerated black men. He also focuses on the fact that when they are sent to prison it causes

many problems at home. This could leave the family with many mental health issues often

causing other family members to create a cycle of incarcerated black people. Not to emotion

this adds this to the ideals that lewis was referring to when stating that black people face mental

health issues causing them to add to the cycle of incarceration when one person in the family

was sent to jail or prison. With then black and white families, “Connections to family members in

prison range from 6% for white males to 44% for black females”. (scholars 2016) Without the

coverage of this content it would be hard to understand why mass incarceration of black men is

so important. This content allows for the readers to to see where there is underlying racist and

bias factors leading to black people being targeted into the jail and prison system.


Discussion of Finding

The purpose if this study was research the extent that black men are being incarcerated

in comparison to other races and how that has an affect on not only themselves but the black

community as a whole and how those numbers can be decreased. By researching many articles

about incarceration of black people including youth it because verty evident that there are

underlying factors that has placed black men disproportionately into jails and prison. How can

the united states justice system improve in order to stop the mass incarceration of black men?

The first finding that emerged from this study was the impact that the school system and

teachers have on mass incarceration. The school to prison pipeline plays a significant role into

why there is a high population of black people in the prison system. Often if black students are

not being directly funneled into juvenile correctional facility they are dropping out of school and

being funneled into the system by racial profiling and other “reasonable suspicion” actions as a

way to incarcerate them. Both Edmund Andrews and Segride Lewis gave forth evidence of how

mass incarceration is increasing at high rates due of these two components. Being that people

have been conditioned to believe that black people and especially black men are criminals and

aggressive it has allowed people to use profiling as a way to cover up discrimination and racism.

Not only does teachers play a role in why every 1 and 4 black men dropout and become

incarcerated but life out of school and how officers are profiling black youth and black men play

a big role as well.


Giving the history of black people in america most findings were not surprising. However

I was surprised to learn how much teachers and the schooling system play a big role into how

black men are being incarcerated at high rates. Not only does school physically funnel kids into

the prison system but mentally as well. Being that they are treated differently in class and told

they are more aggressive with addition of not getting the education and support it lowers self

confidence and ability to push themselves past struggles they face. Not to mention most black

students come from a background of poverty which contributes to why they do not believe that

anything can better within there life leading to behavioral issues.

Throughout my research a similar issue kept occurring within a lot of my sources. Black

people are being discriminated against so much it is causing an increase in prison

population,juvenile population and jail population. I have found that even if the same crime is

committed between and white and black person a black person has a higher percentage not

only go to jail but to receive a higher sentence than a white person who has committed the

same crime. All authors within my source share a similar theme of their articles. The

disproportionate way that black people are treated in comparison when it comes to the criminal

justice` system. Often black people specifically black men are accused of that they did not

commit or they are receiving sentences that surpass the average amount of years that is

generally given to white people when it comes to the justice system and being convicted of a

crime. Sagdrige lewis speaks about the cycle of incarceration of black people coming from the

mental health issues that are faced from people incarcerated people. He speaks about the ideal

and the effects of having someone in jail mentally impacts people around that and can lead to

bad behavior in this case referring to the school to prison pipeline system that funnels black

youth into prison. While scholar speaks more to the side of a history of unproportionate

treatment when it comes to black and white and the bias of white people being treated with less


consequences than those of black bodies. This shows that scholar is in an agreeance with

Lewis. Lewis argues that the history of jim crow laws have created modern day stereotypes and

assumptions that has lead to mass incarceration. Laws created in that time where racially

stigmatized and have developed into the laws that we have today causing black people to be

put into prison at high rates.

A deeper analysis of how the schooling system has affected the lens of black youth and

specifically men would be a good start of a new study. Being that the school system also affects

how other races view black people it would be good to address ways in which none-black

people of color and white people discriminate against black people and play a role in the

conditioning that starts the cycle of incarceration. Not only does the school system explain why

so many youth are being conditioned to go to jail it also explains why so many youth are

dropping out of school and why there is an underlining lens that officers and other officials use

in sending people to jail or even simply searching them for contrabands.



Ultimately black people are being placed into prison at high rates due to systematic

oppression from history and present white supremacy. Through these sources it is evident that

there is an underlying history that is talked about in Moor’s when mentioning early laws like

literacy test and segregation that were blatantly racist and ment to add to the systematic

oppression of black people which has transformed into redlining, gentrification , the prison

system and other tactics like reasonable suspicion . However as society norms are progressing

these truths are becoming more progressive and noticeable. In the study of Moor’s he talks

about how laws that were created and affected the lives of black people then and still affecting

black people especially when it comes with being arrested.

Being that many of my sources addressed the disproportionate rate of black people being

arrested in comparison to white people, I was surprised not to see more information on how

money and classism plays a big role on the mass incarceration of black men and how the

justice system favors one race over the other. I was astonished on how many articles mentioned

the effects of incarceration after being released with comparison with mental health and how


those to go hand in hand. These articles provide a general analysis of how the justice system

favors white people and penalize the black while using racist tactics to get more black people in

jail. Which is why black people make up 40% of the prison system yet we are only 13% of the

population. I have come to the conclusion that there must be more research done in how the

justice system itself can be improved to insure equality and to stop mass incarceration. In order

for the government to effectively do there needs to be systematic changes. One starting with the

educational system. If teachers were properly trained on how adequately address educational

struggles and behavioral struggles then students would not feel the need to drop out or to be

defiant in school. All teachers should be properly trained to not have bias when dealing with

students and restorative justice issues. This training would be required by all teachers when

they are studying to receive there teaching degree. Not only will this improve the rate of

graduates and dropouts in the black community. It will require teachers and administrators to be

responsible with their teaching style. This style of reconstructing the learning system will stop

the funnel of black students and black men into the prison system lowering mass incarceration.



(Mandatory Minimum Prison Sentences for Drug Offenders. By: Crelin, Joy, Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2017)

( Racial Profiling debate. By: Quezzaire, Pilar DiLascio, Tracey M., Points of View,


( Prison Reform. By: Warnes, Kathy, PhD, Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2013)

( Jim Crow laws. By: Moore, William V., Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2014)

(Media bias. By: Aliprandini, Michael Flynn, Simone Isadora, Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2013)

(Jury system. By: Shuman, R. Baird, Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2014)

Research and Reporting: Julie Tate, Jennifer Jenkins and Steven Rich

Design and development by John Muysken