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Disparities between black and white incarceration rates falling

On Behalf of The Foley Law Firm | December 6, 2019

Colorado residents may be interested to learn that racial disparities have narrowed in terms of incarceration across the United States. Still, blacks are more likely to be behind bars than whites, according to recent federal figures.

This shift is partly because of a countrywide drop in imprisonments for drug offenses. The likelihood that a black individual would be incarcerated for drugs was 15 times more likely than for whites in 2000. In 2016, studies showed that blacks were only five times as likely to be incarcerated for drug crimes than whites.

This narrowing of the racial gap is seen not only in incarceration but also in probation and parole. Much of this has gone unnoticed by the public as a whole. This goes against the common misconception that racial disparities in incarceration rates are getting worse. There are several complex reasons for the positive number shift.

Many argue that minorities are disproportionately incarcerated because the criminal justice system has a systematic racial bias. They feel that this bias affects the way that judges, police, juries and prosecutors approach accusations against blacks. Additionally, programs that were designed with the idea of lowering crime in primarily black neighborhoods seen in the 1980s and 1990s played a role in these increased incarceration rates.

It's of note that although racial inequality in incarcerations and interest narrowed, the length of prison sentences blacks are receiving for all crimes has increased overall. Black men are in state prisons at a rate of six to one compared to white inmates. This was a 30% decline from the year 2000.

In the criminal justice system, it is the responsibility of the prosecutor to prove without a reasonable doubt that someone is guilty of a crime. A criminal defense attorney has the responsibility to defend their client, showing that there is reasonable doubt of guilty. Depending on the case, legal counsel could fight for acquittal or plea bargain with prosecution.

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