Report: Minorities make up NC prison population majority
Monday, October 23, 2023
A new study of incarceration trends shows people who are Black or Native American make up more than half of North Carolina's prison population.
The Prison Policy Initiative research finds disparities in the criminal justice system haven't changed in the last decade, despite debates about addressing mass incarceration.
Wanda Bertram, communications strategist for the group, said decisions at a local level often dictate what happens.
"It has a lot to do with how policing works, and how courts work, and also, in a big way, how social services work," Bertram outlined. "What social services are and are not being provided to people in these lower-income neighborhoods where often, health care is harder to access, and schools are much worse."
She noted the research showed members of minority populations also spend more time in prison due to disproportionate sentencing and bail amounts. Every year in North Carolina, at least 128,000 people are booked into local jails.
The report suggested North Carolina's pretrial policies have driven prison population growth over the last 40 years. According to the North Carolina Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities, about 65% of people in jail are awaiting trial, many because they can't pay the bond required for their release.
Bertram argued the economic divide ensures lower-income people will continue to face disparities. The report offers potential solutions to counter the trends.
"Those things include getting people off of parole, supervision and probation supervision; strict supervision that's going to make it more likely that they end up behind bars for just a minor slip-up," Bertram explained. "It includes reforms to the war on drugs, which is still very active in many places."
She added other important considerations are community involvement, improved health care and public education as methods to lessen imprisonment and counteract racial bias.
get more stories like this via email
Health and Wellness
Advocates for affordable health care are speaking out to remind people what is at stake if the Affordable Care Act is repealed in the wake of recent s…
Roughly one in eight Nebraskans who have experienced hunger is a child. The state has a chance to help their families afford groceries, but must 'opt …
If you live in a flood prone community, soil health from nearby farmland may have something to do with it. Ag voices in Wisconsin say government-…
A Virginia group is working out ways to reforest former mines across Appalachia. The state has several hundred thousand acres of mine land, which …
When a Texas woman began her six-year journey to adopt, she hoped to affect one child's life. Felicia Lewis, an adoptive parent, is now making a …
Many parents complete their families through adoption, and November has been the month to encourage awareness, recognize those still waiting to be …
Wildlife advocates are pushing back on a bill in Congress which would remove federal wilderness protections from some Montana land. There are …
The Arizona Governor's Office of Resilience and industry leaders discussed clean energy investments in the state at Honeywell's facility in Phoenix Mo…