Report cites disparities in crime and policing
Thursday, November 16, 2023
The lifetime likelihood of imprisonment for Black men has changed significantly from one generation to the next, according to The Sentencing Project's latest report.
In 1981, one in three Black men was likely to be imprisoned at some point in his life. By 2001, the number decreased to one in five.
Nazgol Ghandnoosh, co-director of research for The Sentencing Project and co-author of the report, said the report documents some of the progress in reducing overall levels of incarceration and racial disparities. But at the same time, it underscores there is still a long way to go.
"When we look at the total U.S. prison population, it's declined by 25% since 2009," Ghandnoosh reported. "Mississippi has been reducing its incarceration level as well, by 22%, since it reached its peak in 2008. However, Mississippi has a much higher rate of imprisonment than the rest of the country."
According to the Prison Policy Initiative, Mississippi has an incarceration rate of 1,031 per 100,000 people. Ghandnoosh noted Mississippi, along with Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, has an incarceration rate about 50% above the national average.
Ghandnoosh emphasized other states have used strategies including reducing the influx of new inmates and curtailing the length of sentences for those already incarcerated. She urged Mississippi to adopt the strategies to further expedite its progress in reducing its prison population.
"If we want to eliminate racial disparities and incarceration completely, and if we actually want to get U.S. incarceration levels to be more comparable to that of our peer countries, we also need to do something to tackle rates of serious violent crime," Ghandnoosh emphasized. "And that's certainly something that Mississippi needs to do as well."
Ghandnoosh pointed out the importance of directing resources toward short and medium-term initiatives aimed at tackling violence, steering away from overreliance on incarceration and excessive policing. She contended to genuinely mitigate substance-abuse issues and the related criminal activities, it is crucial to advocate for universal access to effective drug treatment.
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