Observer Staff Reporter
New data released recently by the Justice Policy Institute reveals that California's Three Strikes law disproportionately locks up African Americans and Latinos compared to Whites.
African Americans constitute 6.5 percent of California's state population, but nearly 30 percent of the the prison population and 44.7 percent of those sentenced to life under the Three Strikes law.
According to this first-of-its-kind analysis of the racial and ethnic makeup of Three Strikes defendants, African Americans are given life sentences under Three Strikes at nearly 13 times the rate of Whites; and, the Latinos are incarcerated under Three Strikes a staggering 82 percent more than Whites.
According to "Racial Divide: An Examination of the Impact of California's Three Strikes Law on African Americans and Latinos," African Americans and Latinos are penalized at every stage of the criminal justice system at rates disproportionate to their share of the general population.
"Three Strikes is systematically funneling African American and Latino defendants into prison for longer and longer sentences, mostly for non-violent crimes," said Vincent Schiraldi, executive director of Justice Policy Institute (JPI), and co-author of the report.
Schiraldi added that the racial disparities for African Americans were particularly harsh by criminological standards. "Rarely does one see any law imposed so disproportionately against one racial group," he added.
The report found that African Americans constitute 6.5 percent of California's state population, but nearly 30 percent of California's prison population and 44.7 percent of those sentenced to life under Three Strikes.
By contrast, Whites constitute 47.1 percent of the population, 29 percent of the prison population, and 25.4 percent of third strikers. When comparing arrest and incarceration rates between African Americans and Whites, African Americans are arrested at 4.4 times the rate of Whites, imprisoned at 7.5 times the rate of Whites and ‘struck out' for life at nearly 13 times the rate of Whites.