Disproportionate Minority Confinement

Disproportionate Minority Confinement




Disproportionate Minority Confinement

Disproportionality among minority youth within the United States and the rest of the developed world is fast becoming a major issue for the correctional departments. The issue of overrepresentation of minority youth within the correctional system is a result of different factors at successive stages of the justice process. The majority of the minorities confined across most counties are caused by spiraling crime rates. The reports of various law enforcement agencies reveals that over 31% of arrests made in the United States are African Americans. However, in the process of analyzing the reports, it is important to analyze the context. This introduces the second factor, jurisdiction (Lawrence, & Hesse, 2010). Cases decided upon within urban areas such as cities and towns are relatively harsher compared to rural areas. Given that most of the minorities are located in urban areas, it is only natural that they will form a bigger number in the correction facilities (Phillips, 2012). Additionally, minority youth are also easily exposed since they are forced to engage in crime within public areas (Lawrence, & Hesse, 2010). Another significant cause of the disproportionality is the method of law enforcement. Police efforts that concentrate on impoverished municipal areas and the application of mass detention procedures have also contributed towards this disproportionality. There are a significant number of police officers within slum and other low-income areas and this increases their contact and the opportunity for arrests (Phillips, 2012).

Additional Causative Factors

The issue of legislation also plays a major role in determining the prevalence of disproportionate minority confinement. Treating juveniles as adults in the justice system was initially implemented in the 1990s to curb the rising rates of juvenile crimes. During this period, many counties and states adopted harsh laws and regulations such as automatic transfers and waiver laws (Lawrence, & Hesse, 2010). These regulations deny juvenile offenders from being tried according to their age and nature of offence. Areas such as California and Los Angeles that have adopted these harsh laws also exhibit the highest numbers of minorities in their correctional facilities. The last significant causative factor of the disproportionality is racial prejudice (Lawrence, & Hesse, 2010). Law enforcement officials possess a misplaced bias against minority youths. This last factor has been addressed aggressively but it has persisted.

Contribution by Judge Police and Community

This section proposes different solutions that can rectify the legal imbalance with the United States justice system. Federal action is necessary to rectify the unfair and inhuman legislations. The laws categorizing children as adults captured within the Federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act should be repealed or amended (Phillips, 2012). The state can also use the government machinery to collect additional data on the state of the detentions as well as the underlying causes. Another solution involves implementing humane and highly effective models that can assist in reforming the juvenile delinquents. Juvenile offenders need to be enrolled in medical, physical and psychological initiatives that can help them become responsible members of the society (Lawrence, & Hesse, 2010). The ultimate objective of the correctional system should be to reform inmates rather than punishing them. The community can also reduce the cases of disproportionate minority confinement by reducing the stigma and negative perceptions about minorities. In most developed societies, African Americans, and Latino youth are perceived as criminals and unable to contribute towards the betterment of the area (Phillips, 2012). This misplaced notion should be displaced. Community members should be receptive and objective when dealing with the youth. This involves dismissing any racial and economic stereotypes.



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Lawrence, R., & Hesse, M. (2010). Juvenile justice: The essentials. Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications.

Phillips, C. (2012). The multicultural prison: Ethnicity, masculinity, and social relations among prisoners. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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