THE COMPLETE PICTURE BLOG
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the gap between the number of blacks and whites in prison is narrowing. This decline is due to a 20% drop in black inmates in the last decade. However, it’s important to recognize that the article also reports that “The racial and ethnic makeup of U.S. prisons continues to look substantially different from the demographics of the country as a whole. In 2017, blacks represented 12% of the U.S. adult population but 33% of the sentenced prison population. Whites accounted for 64% of adults but 30% of prisoners. And while Hispanics represented 16% of the adult population, they accounted for 23% of inmates.” In 2017 the imprisonment rate for black adults was six times that of white adults.
At Complete Picture we believe video portraits that humanize black and Hispanic individuals facing prison are an effective way to counter the inequality that exists in the current judicial system.
Racial Profiling in America
Nearly Six Million Kids Are Impacted by Parental Incarceration
Not only is incarceration costly for taxpayers, but there is a devastating fallout for the prisoner's family and inner circle that cannot be quantified. According to an article by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, “Close to six million kids in America have experienced losing a parent to prison or jail at some point in their lives."
When a parent is incarcerated, they leave a gaping void, an unfulfilled role in their wake that is not usually ever restored. The damage has exponential and long-range consequences on the health and well-being of the children and the family as a whole.
According to the article, ”Children living in the South and Southwest are more likely to have experienced parental incarceration compared to their peers in other parts of the country. In Arkansas, which has the highest proportion of children affected, close to one in five kids have lost a parent to incarceration. Kentucky (15%), Louisiana (14%), Arizona (13%) and Tennessee (13%) follow closely behind.
Youth Offender Hearings in California
According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation:
“The idea of a youth offender hearing is based on scientific evidence showing that parts of the brain involved in behavior control continue to mature through late adolescence and that adolescent brains are not yet fully mature until a person is in his or her mid-to-late 20s. Specifically, the area of the brain responsible for impulse control, understanding consequences, and other executive functions is not fully developed until that time.
"In reviewing this scientific evidence, the United States Supreme Court and the California Supreme Court have recognized that the younger a person is, the more susceptible he or she is to negative influences and outside pressures, including peer pressure. But as they age, maturity can lead to the reflection that is the foundation for remorse, renewal, and rehabilitation. Therefore, the California Legislature has determined that with few exceptions, offenders who commit crimes while under the age of 26 and who are sentenced to state prison are required to have a meaningful opportunity for parole during their natural life.
"In addition, courts have determined that offenders under the age of 18 cannot be sentenced to life without the opportunity of parole absent consideration of the juvenile’s special circumstances.”
Being an African-American Shouldn't Mean a Longer Prison Sentence is Necessary
There was an incredible story about a man named Duane Buck who was accused of being more dangerous because he was black.
Why Cash Bail is No Longer
Legal in California
In a recent article in The New York Times there is an informative story about the inequality of poor defendants who are unable to post bail while the rich defendants are free to go home. The cash bail system has been restricted or eliminated in many states because it favors the rich, allowing them to avoid jail time while awaiting trial while poor people are held in jail with no other recourse. Several recent studies published in economic journals reveal that individuals who were unable to post bail and subsequently served time while awaiting trial, are more likely to be convicted of the offense as well as to commit another crime, or be unemployed within 2-4 years of the original arrest. The article in the New York Times goes on to explain that “while the cash-bail system penalizes poor people, it also discriminates against African-Americans, who tend to be treated more severely than white people by judges who set bail, regardless of the judge’s race."