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SOCIOLOGY MIDTERM PAPERSSociology Midterm Paper #1Zachary T. HolstonVirginia Union University1
SOCIOLOGY MIDTERM PAPERSAbstractThere are many fields of sociology dedicated to the study of a variety of recurring social issues and problems. Of these issues, mass incarceration in the United States has become a widely discussed topic with a variety of opinions and perspectives. As an African American, I have taken profound interest I this topic as the African-American community has been exposed to this social issue for over a century. Throughout the numerous studies and research done of this topic, a major question being asked is the cause of a profound overrepresentation of people of color in American prisons. This topic resonated with me as an African American because I have seen this system play a major role in the overall atmosphere of my communities and schools. Though African Americans only account for 13 percent of the United States population, they represent a staggering 43 percent of the prison population (hedgeless_horseman 1). This astounding disparity can be observed through a variety of research methods.Throughout the early phases of my research, I would spend a great deal of time analyzingthe history of African Americans within the American prison system. African Americans were originally brought to the United States as a means of free labor for white landowners and farmers. Upon President Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, all enslaved individuals, whether in the Union or Confederacy, were “thenceforward, and forever free” (History.com Staff 1). Two years later, the eradication of the institution of slavery was somewhat cemented in the 13thAmendment of the Constitution. This amendment, however, included a clause that legalizes the institution of slavery as a means of dealing with crime. As a result of this loophole, newly freed African Americans were the targets of law enforcement that made available a steady flow of free labor to privately owned prisons. 2
SOCIOLOGY MIDTERM PAPERSAfrican Americans were subjected to arrestment and imprisonment for miniscule offenses such as unemployment (Meyer 1). Through further analysis and research on this topic, one may view how this system of mass incarceration continues to affect the African-American community to this day.One way by which this can be observed is through statistical analysis of the conviction of African Americans in society. According to a study conducted by M. Marit of the Unviersity of Bristish Colombia and Sonja B. of the University of Michigan Law School, “Black Americans receive almost 60% longer prison sentences than white Americans who committed the same crime” (cganemccalla 1). This statistical fact can be seen in current events such as the case of Brock Turner, a Caucasian swimmer from Stanford University who was charged for the rape of an unconscious woman. On the other hand, all-star black high school football player Brian Banksspent more than five years in prison for a rape he did not commit (Noman 1). This mass