Disproportionate Minority Representation










Disproportionate Minority Representation














Author Note



Disproportionate Minority Representation

The issue of disproportionate representation of minority persons in the United States is well known and has persisted for many years. Even as civilization continues to grow, and the claim that racism and inequality have reduced, the current trends indicate that one out of three African American males will end up being incarcerated at least once in their lifetime. Similarly, one out of six Latino males also will have to be imprisoned at least once as they are the second largest minority group in the United States (Harris et al., 2009). The same case applies to women, even though the rates of incarceration for women are lower than that of males. Considering these statistics reflect on the current generation, and the one to come, these figures are truly disturbing for America as a leading democracy.  Some factors and policies have contributed to the disparity found within the US Criminal Justice System that may contribute to the high rates of minority people being incarcerated. Some of the key issues leading to such racial disparity include inequalities in criminal justice processing, race-neutral policies effects, and also the overlap of class and race effects.

Inequalities in Criminal Justice Processing

A lot has changed over the years, and efforts to eliminate disparity and inequality have progressed. However, ethnic and racial disparities still exist through the decision making processes within the criminal justice system (Kindle, 2012). Although these inequalities may not be conscious, still, institutions supposed to protect freedom and liberty end up contributing to excessive incarcerations of people within the minority communities. Over the years the problems of racial profiling have been a problem, with the extent to which the people being arrested are processed discriminately. Compared to whites, the rates at which black people are subject to arrests, traffic stops, and seizures are three times more. Also, Kim & Kiesel (2017) note that the likelihood of a black person being arrested after a traffic stop is high compared to whites.

The rate of arrests is complemented by the processing and representation of these black people. People, who cannot afford lawyers and are left to public defenders, end up being incarcerated due to inequalities in the processing. Harris et al. (2009) noted that instead of appropriately defending the defendants, plea bargains are reached by the public defenders and the district attorneys, ultimately landing the black person in question in jail, even though they may or may not be guilty of the crimes. Nellis, Greene & Mauer (2008) also notes that the pupated war on drugs specifically targeted on back communities contributes to a large majority of black people being arrested on drug possession, or drug use charges. In the year 2005, the percentage of drug users within the African American community totaled to 14% only. However, more than 30% of the people arrested for drug-related charges were black, and more than 50% of them were incarcerated for drug-related offenses (Kim & Kiesel, 2017).

Overlap of Race and Class Effects

The disparities can also be blamed on the race and class effects affecting minority communities. It is agreeable that minority communities such as African Americans and Hispanic communities compromise of the lowest income earners in the country. As a result, these people do not have access to quality legal representation in courts and are left at the mercy of the public defense system. The quality of public counsels is widely known to be poor, characterized by poor training, inadequate resources, high caseloads, and low pay (Kim & Kiesel, 2017). As a result, public defenders fail to provide much-needed quality counsel to their clients, often opting for plea bargains, as observed earlier. The low-income earners who happen to be the minority communities thus have no resources to defend themselves, and the public defenders appointed to them also have no resources or time to examine facts of the cases carefully. For example, low-income substance abusers may have problems being released owing to the fact they cannot afford to enroll in treatment programs, compared to those who can afford such treatments.

Race-Neutral Policies effects

Sentencing policies that have been implemented by the criminal justice system and that are considered race-neutral have clear negative effects towards minority communities instead of reducing their problems with the law (Mallett, 2018). Legislators could have predicted the effects caused by these policies. Instead of reducing incidences of racial profiling, these policies propagate the relationship between harsh penalties and what people view as race crimes. A good example of such policies include the school-zone drug offense policies that convict drug offenders caught within a certain distance from schools more harshly than others (Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach, n.d.). This policy affects the black, and other minority communities more compared to the white community. As most schools are found in urban areas, where black communicates reside, these people are convicted harshly compared to the white persons who do not reside near urban centers.


It is apparent that differences in race and ethnicity are impacted by wide prescribed policies and culture that are dependent on jurisdictions.  The only way to demonstrate the will to close the gaps in the system is only by justice system leaders, society and policy makers unifying towards a similar objective. There are various measures that can be implemented to begin the process of solving the issue.

Focus change on Drug Policies and Practices

Policymakers in the country should work to ensure the primary objectives of policies on drugs are geared towards minimizing drug abuse as well as the racial and ethnical gap in the system. Resources should be diverted towards creating equilibrium between enforcement and reducing approach (Mallett, 2018). The focus should be based on prevention and rehabilitating through initiatives to boost community-based treatment not dependence on services from the justice system. Moreover, it is vital to create frameworks for drug offenders in the system to focus entirely on already sentenced people. There could also be a revising of jail terms at both federal and state systems to provide the judges with the option of declaring sentence based on individual situations.

Equality in Justice Administration

It is the role of state and federal governments to make policies that provide equal chances to access and receive justice. There are two ways to implement platforms for equal justice including community-based platforms and reforms on the criminal justice system (Nellis, Greene & Mauer, 2008). The former involves creating initiatives to fully support impecunious control services while engaging a variety of community-based options. The latter involves expanding resources on the judicial system to come up with platforms for the reduced short-term cost.

Enacting statements on Race to Access Impact on the System

It is recommendable to assess the impact of planned initiatives on the Judicial System before implementation as in the case of fiscal and environmental statements. For instance, in the year 2008, a similar method was utilized by IOWA and Connecticut for the policymakers to evaluate the impact of anticipated legislation on racial composition in state correctional centers (Nellis, Greene & Mauer, 2008). In case there is a negative effect from the statements that do not prevent the legislative entity from continuing with implementation especially where it involves civilian security rather it provides a platform for further review of racial disparities.  This approach is working smoothly in Minnesota where the commission for enacting guidelines for imprisonment provides analysis at determined intervals.


As observed, disproportionate representation of minority persons in the United States is a thorny issue that has persisted for years. The claim that racism and inequality have reduced is wrong based on the current trends indicate that one out of three African American males will end up being incarcerated at least once in their lifetime. Equally, one out of six Latino males also will have to be imprisoned at least once as they are the second largest minority group in the United States. While the media and most people still disagree that there are rampant cases of racial inequalities within the criminal justice system, facts prove otherwise. Racism is being perpetrated by the very system meant to protect minority communities from such disparities. African Americans, as well as Hispanic communities, are predisposed to high incarcerations based on their housing patterns, neighborhoods and even the policies put in place to protect them from inequalities. As a result, people of color, and other minority communities within the United States have lost trust in the very justice system that could bring justice to them. The country should commit to assess and remedy the issues to avoid future conflict.





Harris, C. T., Steffensmeier, D., Ulmer, J. T., & Painter-Davis, N. (2009). Are Blacks and Hispanics Disproportionately Incarcerated Relative to Their Arrests? Racial and Ethnic Disproportionality between Arrest and Incarceration. Race and Social Problems, 1(4), 187-199. doi:10.1007/s12552-009-9019-x

Kim, J., & Kiesel, A. (2017). The Long Shadow of Police Racial Treatment: Racial Disparity in Criminal Justice Processing. Public Administration Review, 78(3), 422-431. doi:10.1111/puar.12842

Kindle, P. A. (2012). The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Melissa Alexander. Journal of Policy Practice, 11(3), 214-216. doi:10.1080/15588742.2012.687709

Mallett, C. A. (2018). Disproportionate minority contact in juvenile justice: Today’s, and yesterdays, problems. Criminal Justice Studies, 31(3), 230-248. doi:10.1080/1478601x.2018.1438276

Nellis, A., Greene, J., & Mauer, M. (2008). Reducing racial disparity in the criminal justice system: A manual for practitioners and policymakers. Washington, DC: Sentencing Project.

Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2018, from https://www.nap.edu/read/14685/chapter/1