Though the United States prides itself in its Declaration of Independence, stating “that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” (Center for Civic Education, 2019), there is much about the US that is still unequal. Since the United States’ inception, black Americans have been extremely unequal in comparison to white Americans. This paper will draw upon previous research and data to investigate the current status of the criminal justice system as an insidious remnant of the racial inequality that the United States was founded on. The three distinct areas that lead to mass incarceration of black Americans are as follows: the school-to-prison pipeline, racially-based arrests and policing, and sentencing. In each of these steps there are opportunities to remedy this harmful and racist situation.
According to George M. Fredrickson (1997), “sociologists have long recognized that race is a social rather than a biological phenomenon … But social and cultural constructions can justify the enslavement, forced segregation, or even the extermination of people designated as having inferior ancestry or bad genes.” Why are these “social and cultural constructions” so powerful? In the United States, this discussion of race has always been focused on black versus white. Though other races, such as Japanese, Hispanic, and countless others, have been the target of discrimination in the United States throughout its history, the discrimination of black people in the US has never wavered, even being upheld by the law.