American Renaissance

Justice System Is ‘Broken,’ Lawyers Say

With soaring prison populations, especially of minorities, the U.S. must seek alternatives, bar association urges.

Henry Weinstein, L. A. Times, Jun. 24


Between 1974 and 2002, the number of inmates in federal and state prisons rose six-fold. By 2002, 476 out of every 100,000 Americans were imprisoned, according to Justice Department statistics. That compares with 100 per every 100,000 in Western European countries such as England, Germany and Italy.

In 1982, the states and federal government spent $9 billion on jails and prisons. By 1999, the figure had risen to $49 billion.


He also made pointed remarks about the demographics of the nation’s inmates. “Nationwide, more than 40% of the prison population consists of African American inmates,” Kennedy said. “In some cities, more than 50% of young African American men are under the supervision of the criminal justice system.”

That reality is not likely to change, according to the group’s study. Based on trends, a black male born in 2001 has a 1 in 3 chance of being imprisoned during his lifetime, while the chances for a Latino male are 1 in 6, and for a white male, 1 in 17.

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