The Prison Population Of The United States Essay

1608 Words Apr 17th, 2016 7 Pages
According to Pettit and Western (2004) “The U.S. penal population increased six fold between 1972 and 2000, leaving 1.4 million men in state and federal prisons by the end of the century”(p. 151). This enormous prison population makes the U.S prison population the largest in the world as of today. The prison population explosion that happened during the time period of 1972-2000 was caused by many factors, however this population was disproportionately that of minorities. During the 1980’s there was a nation-wide crack epidemic that caused crime to get out of control (Pettit & Western 2004). The people demanded a get tough approach on drugs and crime. That’s when the government delivered by declaring a War on Drugs. However this War on Drugs and get tough on crime approach seemed more like a War on minorities with mass arrests and incarcerations. According to Pettit and Western (2004) “Official criminality attached not just to individual offenders, but to whole social groups defined by their race, age and class” (p. 153). In other words if you were that of African American, Hispanic, young and poor you were the target. As of 2005 (Harris, Steffensmeier, Ulmer, & Davis, 2009) African Americans in prison were approximately 40% of the population and Hispanics were about 20%, however in comparison to the U.S population African Americans were 12.6% while Hispanics were 14.4%. Therefore it is clear that there is a big disparity in the population of minorities within the prison…

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