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By Robin Walker Sterling
“It is not permissible that the authors of devastation should be innocent. It is the innocence which constitutes the crime.”
MY DUNGEON SHOOK: LETTER TO MY NEPHEW ON THE ONE HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY OF EMANCIPATION
I. IntroductionA. Disproportionate Minority Contact: The Problem
The statistics are familiar and jarring. Beating out
even China, the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the
world.1 The U.S. incarceration rate has increased roughly six-fold, from
fewer than 350,000 people in state and federal prisons and jails
nationwide in 1972,2 to more than 2.3 million people as of June 30,
2009.3 This number translates to 748 inmates per 100,000 U.S.
residents.4 More than one in every 100 adult U.S. residents lives behind
The racial dimension behind these numbers is
well-known to criminal defense attorneys. In 2009, Blacks comprised less
than 13 percent of the U.S. population, but accounted for almost 40
percent of the jail and prison p
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