Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: June 02, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412971928 | Print ISBN: 9781412950855 | Online ISBN: 9781412971928| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
African Americans, Hispanics, and members of other minority racial and ethnic groups are incarcerated in federal and state prisons and in local jails at much higher rates than their numbers in the U.S. population. Although some criminologists have argued that this pattern can be explained by such factors as disparities in arrest rates, there is growing consensus that a significant portion of it reflects unwarranted racial bias (both direct and indirect) in the workings of the criminal justice system and systemic racism in the wider society. This entry reviews rates of incarceration for minorities compared with those for Whites and for the general population in the United States, as well as the historical context of these differences. It then examines explanations of these disproportionate incarcerations that go beyond an appeal to higher arrest rates for minorities. African Americans constituted about 12.4% of the U.S. population in 2006, but they constituted ...