Dear Youth Voices Community,

My name is San Ly, a senior at Fremont High School in Oakland

The social inequity problem I am looking into is Mass Incarceration. The demographic group I am most focused on for this inequity is African-American because human still facing discrimination and racism. The reason I feel this is an inequity is people are being kept behind the bars for their life sentences when they hadn’t done anything violently. Prison population increases every single year and it doesn’t help our society.

Right now, I believe a solution to this problem would be keeping prisoners in the shorter term, a few years to repent for what they had done to themselves and the society. Provide them some skills so after all, they can use it to start a new life. The United States can use those billion dollars used to spend on prisoners to rebuild roads, support schools and college students for supplies and school fees.

Some might argue that “Within those few years, they might not be apologetic and truly change,” and this makes my research focus debatable.

Fremont High School seniors are now curating sources to explain our inequity and its impact on society and to develop arguments for why and how this inequity needs to be addressed. If you have ideas for sources I should explore, please send me those ideas or links in the comment section. I would greatly appreciate your feedback and help.

Sincerely,

San Ly
Fremont High School

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CC BY-SA 4.0 Help on my Senior Project: Mass Incarceration by San is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

7 Comments
  1. Lucy 3 weeks ago

    Hi San,
    I’ve been working with a Utah State representative for almost a year on the topic of the school to prison pipeline, so this post is very relevant to my interests. Bringing light to the racial disproportionality in prisons, especially with young people, is essential in educating the public and inciting change. I found an article that was helpful in educating me on the STPP (https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/spring-2013/the-schooltoprison-pipeline) and I recommend that you check it out. Understanding mass incarceration starts at the root with the lack of aid in young people, given our VERY high prison return statistic in the US. Thanks for bringing such an important light to such an overlooked topic!
    Lucy

  2. Judge Thomas 3 weeks ago

    San,
    I found your post very interesting and one that is a n important issue to discuss. A question that I would like to bring up and may be influential in your research is, “What kinds of programs do we have to offer to rehabilitate most inmates especially those of younger ages? And how can we make these programs as affective as we can?” I agree with your point about the many unnecessary infractions people commit that causes them to receive life sentences. I found this link helpful because it described the irrational convictions and punishments made on juvenile delinquents such as life sentencing, https://www.hrw.org/report/2012/01/03/against-all-odds/prison-conditions-youth-offenders-serving-life-without-parole. Another link that may be useful to you is this https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/3559 as it helps with defining key terms and conditions of incarceration. I hope to see your next post.

    -Thomas

  3. Maggie 3 weeks ago

    Hi San! this is a really interesting topic and I’m so glad someone picked it. I’ve never really thought in depth about mass incarceration and how this affects the society as a whole. I think that many people overlook the affects and have the mindset that if someone did something bad then they automatically should be put in jail. I think there are some situations where this is the case, but for most I don’t think so. Why did you choose to study African Americans? Why do you think that mass incarceration is a big issue among this group of people? I found an article that might be helpful. It talks about the mass incarceration of African Americans and how it has a big affect on the racial achievement gap. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/03/15/mass-incarceration-of-african-americans-affects-the-racial-achievement-gap-report/?utm_term=.34e4d9b4c161 I am very interested to see what you find on this topic. Good luck!
    -Maggie

  4. Sara 3 weeks ago

    San,
    This is a great subject, especially within the realm of social injustices. This topic fits into a lot of the bigger issues that we face today in the United States. I am interested because it wasn’t something that I had thought about before, and this led me to want and learn more about it. I went and found a website, which Karen provided, called Sentencing Project and it goes into detail about the the numbers as long as articles that fit in with your topic. On a publication from this website, http://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/color-of-justice-racial-and-ethnic-disparity-in-state-prisons/, it goes into the number of inmates, for each state, of different races. Here is one more resource from NAACP, http://www.naacp.org/criminal-justice-fact-sheet/, this goes into the trends of incarceration and race. It also covers some of the effects of the incarceration. This is such an important topic and I am glad that you are covering it, thank you and I hope to hear more about this from you in the future.

  5. Simon 3 weeks ago

    Hi San,
    This is such a big problem and I believe that one of the biggest reasons is the amount amount of prison time given for minor drug offenses. Minor drug offenses have been punished harshly in America and the biggest sufferers have been African American men. they make up such a large part of the American prison system because the laws for drugs besides marijuana are tilted against them. Cocaine, commonly associated with white people, carries a much shorter term for a second offense then does crack cocaine, which is often associated with African Americans.
    http://www.vocativ.com/underworld/drugs/crack-vs-coke-sentencing/ this article should help you understand this and include it in your essay.
    I look forward to seeing what you write on this subject.
    Simon

  6. Logan 3 weeks ago

    I think that this is a massive issue in our society today, and I’m glad you are researching it. One thing I think you would be interested in is the iat (https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html), a test that determines a person’s racial prejudice. I also think you would enjoy Psychology Today’s view on racism. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/colorstruck/201005/ending-racism-starts-accepting-bias)
    I think that this is definitely a project that can take you places, and ultimately a topic which can redefine our society for the better. I’ll be back to see what you end up discovering!

  7. Karen 1 year ago

    San, this is such an important topic. I’m glad you are researching and writing about it.

    Here are some resources I would recommend:

    https://eji.org/mass-incarceration

    http://www.naacp.org/criminal-justice-fact-sheet/

    http://www.sentencingproject.org/issues/racial-disparity/

    I look forward to reading more about what you learn.

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