The story of the Jena Six reveals

posted by Jason Kottke Oct 01, 2007

The story of the Jena Six reveals only a small part of the discrimination in the American justice system.

The Sentencing Project, a research and advocacy group, released a state-by-state study of prison populations that identified where blacks endured the highest rates of incarceration. The top four states were South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Vermont; the top ten included Utah, Montana, and Colorado โ€” not places renowned for their African-American subcultures. In the United States today, driving while black โ€” or shoplifting while black, or taking illegal drugs, or hitting schoolmates โ€” often carries the greatest risk of incarceration, in comparison to the risk faced by whites, in states where people of color are rare, including a few states that are liberal, prosperous, and not a little self-satisfied. Ex-slave states that are relatively poor and have large African-American populations, such as Louisiana, display less racial disparity.