Report On Incarceration Shows Familiar Picture

Might I suggest not committing as many crimes? It'll keep you out of this joint...

The latest reports from the US Sentencing Commission (USSC) once again affirms that – once again-  African Americans lead all groups, minority or otherwise, in rates of prison incarceration. What a stunning accomplishment (sarcasm)!

The USSC’s report collects national data on sentencing for offenders from October 2011, through October 2016. This massive statistical study is the fifth such report from the organization, since the study started in 2003.

The report found out that black male offenders’ sentences were almost 19.1% longer than white male offenders’ over the period that was being studied. Hispanic male offenders’ sentences were a 5.3% longer than their white counterparts.

When the court system has flexibility over minimum sentencing requirements, the report found that African Americans still manage to warrant 16.8% longer than those of white men. Meanwhile Hispanics received sentences 10.6 percent longer under these same minimum sentencing conditions.

The main disparity between these white and black male criminals is has remained virtually unchanged since the USSC’s 2007 report. There was no statistically significant difference between the incarceration rates for Hispanic and White male offenders before 2007.

The report also found that the women of all races were sentenced much less harshly than male offenders. White women received almost 26% shorter sentences; Hispanic women, 25.5%; and black women, 21.1% shorter. There are about 14,000 women in the federal prison, mostly for drug-related offenses.

Whether or not an offender was a citizen, also had a huge impact on length of the sentence; non-citizens had even longer sentences. But education didn’t make a difference: otherwise-similar offenders with, and without, at least some college education had the same length of sentence.

One factor that did not turn out to be statistically significant was the history of prior violence – go figure! Previous reports had not been accounted for the past violence, so the USSC collected relevant statistical information for FY2016. It is a well-known fact, recorded yearly in the FBI’s crime statistics, that African Americans are by far the most violent racial subset, especially considering that black males only make up 6% of the entire population.

The USSC delimits its reports on the sentencing disparity based on the dates of Supreme Court cases, which have altered the use of federal sentencing guidelines. For instance, the previous report had covered a period following the deciding of Gall v. United States, which had concerned the review of sentences outside those set by federal sentencing guidelines.

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