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Blacks Dis- proportion ately Represented in CDC

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According to a first quarter 2004 report issued by the California Department of Corrections, there are 300,415 offenders under their jurisdiction at a cost of $5.7 billion to taxpayers.

They employ 49,247 employees to care for them at a cost of $30,929 dollars to house the inmates per year.

We spend less than $7,000 dollars per year to educate a child in our public schools. According to the California Department of Education, the state spends on average $6,719, which is a far cry from what the state spends on rehabilitating inmates.

They report that we spend $3,364 per year to supervise each person they put on parole each year. Ninety-four percent of the prison population is male with a racial breakdown as follows: Whites make up 29%; Blacks 29%; Hispanics 36%; with 6% not being listed or identified by race. Now, when it comes to parolees 31% of the White population is let out of prison as compared to 26% Blacks and 38% Hispanics.

The reason I decided to study the prison population was to compare it with the state population by race. In the State of California we have 34.5 million people, of which 59.5% are White; 6.7% are Black; 32.4% are Hispanic; 10.9% Asian and 1 % Indian.

The question that came to mind after looking at these numbers is why the Black population of 6.7% is so disproportionately represented in the prison population than any other group? Why do we make up 29% of the prison population while comprising only 6.7% of the total population? One might respond that we commit more crimes than any other group. I do not subscribe to that notion. One might respond that we get caught more than any other group. I do not subscribe to that notion either.

One might respond that we confess with plea bargains more than any other group. This one to me has some merit. One might respond that our legal representation is not as efficient as other groups. This too has some merit. One might say that because of publiopinion and stereotypes, Blacks are less likely to be believed in a court of law and treated differently than any other group. This too has some merit. One might say we have less Blacks serving on juries when we go to trial. This too has merit.

Regardless of what the reason is or is not the fact remains that we comprise only 6.7% of the population and make up 29% of the prison population which is a major concern to me and one in which our community needs to address and provide answers.

I don’t know what fuels this lopsided miscarriage of justice, but in looking back maybe we all know some reason why this might be the case. Recently in Orange County, a sheriff deputy’s son was caught breaking the law, but was not cited for the violation. The arresting officer called it in, but another officer decided not to log it in because it was a member of the law enforcement family.

Another example that comes to mind is when the DA will pile on a number of charges and then suggest that through a plea bargaining agreement the sentence will be reduced. In most cases the DA does not have the evidence to take the case to trial. However the DA knows and the defendant knows because of the jury pool, he stands a chance to find the defendant guilty.

In 1930 over 76% of the prison population was White and by 1986 only 39 % were White. While during that same period Blacks went from 22% upwards to 45%. Did Whites stop committing crimes and Blacks commit more crimes, I doubt it.

According to Dr. Andrew Hacker, professor of political science at Queens College in New York, “a more accurate explanation is that over the last half-century most white Americans have moved upward on the social scales, so that fewer of them remain among the class of people who tend to receive prison terms.” He went on to say that, “In the United States and elsewhere, people who are poor and have sporadic employment end up filling most of the cells.

Most of this group used to be White, now the largest numbers are Black”. Even after you obtain the economic status of Michael Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Kobe Bryant, or O.J. you are still hounded by the system of which many Blacks believe is partially driven by their race.

We know by statistical data that Blacks and Hispanics are stopped and arrested by police more than Whites, thus starting the process of more going into prison. And according to a report recently released by the National Urban League there are also disparities in sentencing. They report that the average prison sentence for a Black person is six months longer than that for Whites.

I don’t know all the answers to this problem but I know we need to take a look at the disproportionate number of Blacks feeding the criminal justice system. What do you think? Please write or call me at 909 888-5040 with your opinion.

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