On Mass Incarceration

A helpful collection of resources for learning about sentencing disparities and mass incarceration.

Wikipedia Outline of Sentencing Disparities

A 2001 University of Georgia study found substantial disparity in criminal sentencing men and women received “after controlling for extensive criminological, demographic, and socioeconomic variables”. The study found that “blacks and males are… less likely to get no prison term when that option is available; less likely to receive downward departures [from the guidelines]; and more likely to receive upward adjustments and, conditioned on having a downward departure, receive smaller reductions than whites and females”.[3]

The Unlikely Comeback of the ‘Pill-Popping Dermatologist’

‘Why stick by Dr. Karcher? “First of all, We had a Miss USA who went to rehab in 2006, and Cheryl stood behind us,” Ms. Shugart says. “Second, not to sound too clichéd, but we are an organization run by women that supports women, and standing up and doing what’s right. This was a no-brainer for us.”’

Why are crack cocaine sentences longer than those for powder cocaine?

“The thought behind the thinking was that the harsh sentences would deter people from dealing the drug. However, not only did it fail at that, it also had the unintended consequence of focusing disproportionately on blacks. Because black people were the main users of the drugs, they were also the main dealers of it. That means that most of the people receiving the longer sentences have been black people.”

Racial Disparity Infographic from The Sentencing Project

“1 in every 10 black men in his thirties is in prison or jail on any given day.”

NAACP Criminal Justice Fact Sheet

  • African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population
  • African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites
  • Together, African American and Hispanics comprised 58% of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately one quarter of the US population

Drug Policy Alliance Drug War Fact Sheet (PDF)

“People of color experience discrimination at every stage of the judicial system and are more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, convicted, harshly sentenced and saddled with a lifelong criminal record. This is particularly the case for drug law violations.”