Panel To Study Ky. Black-White Imprisoning Disparity

LOUISVILLE, KY --After completing a yearlong study of racial imbalances in Jefferson County juries, a court commission wants to see if it can determine why a disproportionate number of African Americans end up in prison in Kentucky, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal in its Sunday edition.

In Jefferson County, for instance, 57 percent of the people sent to state prison last year were African American, even though blacks constituted only 20 percent of the county population as of 2006.

In addition to finding out why such disparities occur, the Commission on Racial Fairness hopes to find out if anything can be done to resolve any problems found, reports the C-J.

"I'm alarmed when I look at this," Raoul Cunningham, the Louisville NAACP president and a member of the commission, said of statistics he obtained from the Department of Corrections and presented to the commission recently.

The commission was supposed to start studying the issue of courtroom environment this month, but Cunningham instead showed members statewide racial incarceration numbers and asked if that issue could take precedence, the newspaper reports.

Several members of the commission agreed the disparity between blacks and whites in prison was more pressing, and Appeals Court Judge Denise Clayton, head of the commission, will now ask Chief Justice Joseph Lambert, who created the commission, for his permission to study the issue.

"I maintain something is rotten in Denmark and we need to find out what," Cunningham told the commission.

Harry Rothgerber, first assistant Jefferson commonwealth's attorney, said, "This has been discussed in the criminal justice field for many, many years and I know of nobody who has had success" finding solutions. The commonwealth's attorney's office has a seat on the commission, reports the Courier-Journal.

Some other large counties have an even bigger disparity than Jefferson.

In Kenton County, for example, the population was 4 percent black as of 2006, but nearly a quarter of its state inmates last year were African American.

In Daviess County, where blacks made up 3 percent of the population in 2006, 26 percent of the residents sent to state prison last year were black, the newspaper reports.

For the state overall, African Americans make up 7 percent of the population, but they account for 24 percent of those going to prison.

Marc Mauer, executive director of the Washington-based National Sentencing Project, which released a report on state rates of incarceration last year, said Kentucky is actually a little below the national average, with blacks here being five times more likely to be incarcerated in jails and prisons than whites, reports The Louisville Courier-Journal.

copyright: The Louisville Courier-Journal
www.courier-journal.com


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by ? Location: Ky on Feb 14, 2008 at 12:07 PM
    Hey Razdus....your comment is exactly the kind of "attitude" everyone is talking about. Pathetic that people can't all act the same. Down with the slang and jive.If you do the crime regardless of what "color" you are...pay the TIME. no exceptions!!!!!
  • by Anonymous on Feb 14, 2008 at 08:08 AM
    You shouldn't be put in jail because of your skin color and you shouldn't be let out of jail because of your skin color. It's common sense, not racism. Anyone who says anything otherwise isn't looking for fairness and equality, they're pushing an agenda.
  • by Joey Location: Lex on Feb 14, 2008 at 07:20 AM
    Hey Connie, I'm not picking on you because basically, I agree with you, but I am laughing about the purple and pink comment. One of these days, I want to see one of those people...LOL!
  • by Bob Location: Eastern KY on Feb 14, 2008 at 06:04 AM
    I completely agree that, regardless of race, gender, ets., that all crime should be punished equally. I just happen to see the validity of people being interested in why there is such desparity in the prison populations. I fail to see why this is a matter that infuriates so many people? There's an obvious discrepancy, let's take a closer look at what the underlying issues are. Also, for those posters who think it's comical to type in negative stereotypical manners, what are you trying to achieve? Do you want to make yourself look stupid? You're accomplishing that.
  • by Connie Location: Frankfort on Feb 14, 2008 at 04:26 AM
    I don't care if you are purple or pink, if you commit the crime, then you do the time! Racism MIGHT not exist if people didn't scream discrimination every time we turn around. EVERYONE is discriminated against in one way or the other. When you protect one's rights, you step on those of others. Criminals should be locked up and sentenced to death for murder. Their executions should be quick so that prisons are not overcrowded. The fact is America caddles their criminals & protects them over the victims all too often. Criminals have more rights than their victims do which is WRONG! The color of one's skin should play NO ROLE in deciding punishment. It wouldn't either, if the laws were written in a way that judges could not change them, then there would be no questions about inprisonment or death! If you want this type of thing stopped, then DEMAND that our laws be specific on punishments for crimes and take it out of the judge's hand! That way ALL people get the same treatment for crime.
  • by Razdus on Feb 14, 2008 at 02:37 AM
    Let me ax you somefin Bob from Eastern KY. Where do there be an inferior justice? I gots my edumacation free cuz of who I be. It's like havin a birfday when you gets a free edumacation. ain't no injustices here, just somone getting free stuff cuz they aint white. What be the problem?
  • by Louis C Location: Louisville on Feb 14, 2008 at 01:48 AM
    Elect Obama or Clinton and whitey WILL pay reperations.
  • by Chuck Location: Bluegrass on Feb 13, 2008 at 09:10 PM
    This is the least we can do for Black History Month. Let's keep stirring it! MAYBE IF EVERYBODY WOULD BEHAVE THEMSELVES, whether black or white, this wouldn't have to be a discussion.
  • by purpleheart Location: lily, ky. on Feb 13, 2008 at 05:52 PM
    no question there is still racist in our society, but there more blacks doing time, because they do more crimes.Black men should be home with their families, not out on the streets.
  • by Linda Location: KY on Feb 13, 2008 at 03:38 PM
    Racism is ignorance. We are all people with the same needs and the same feelings. This crap needs to get lined out. We have to live as people.....not whites, blacks, or whatever.
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