Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Race and Sentencing
Delores D. Jones-Brown
On October 25, 1829, Charles Williams, an eighteen-year-old African American male, became the first inmate admitted to Eastern State Penitentiary, one of the first prisons in the United States. In 2001, while African Americans make up roughly 13 percent of the U.S. population, they account for over 40 percent of the national jail and prison population. Ongoing debates attempt to determine why minorities, especially blacks (African Americans, Africans, and persons of Caribbean descent), are overrepresented among those under correctional supervision (including probation, parole, and incarceration). Explanations range from greater criminal involvement to intentional discrimination on the part of prosecutors and judges. While the evidence supporting these explanations is equivocal, there is substantial evidence that minority status, particularly being black, is a strong predictor that an offender will be tried, convicted, and sentenced to confinement or death. This holds true for both adult and juvenile offenders. In the 1987 U.S. Supreme ...