Mass Incarceration: Racial Disparities in the United States

Francis A. Gregory Library

Mass Incarceration: Racial Disparities in the United States

Racial disparities in the criminal justice system continue to be a concern in the United States today. 

According to data from the D.C. based organization, The Sentencing Project,  the number of incarcerated Americans increased from approximately half a million  in 1980 to slightly over 2.2 million by 2015.  However, African Americans are imprisoned at more than five times the rate of whites.  Moreover, though African Americans and Hispanics comprised 32% of the nation’s population in 2015, they made up 56% of all incarcerated individuals in the United States. 

In recognition of Black History Month, Karl A. Racine, the first elected Attorney General of the District of Columbia, will discuss mass incarceration and other ways that the criminal justice system perpetuates racial disparities.

Mr. Racine is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Virginia School of Law. After graduating from law school in 1989, he joined Venable LLP.   In 2006, he was elected managing partner, becoming the first black managing partner to serve in the position at a top 100 law firm. 

Over the course of 28 years, the skilled litigator has been in public and private practice specializing in the areas of criminal and civil litigation and appellate advocacy.   During the period, he also worked as a staff attorney with the District of Columbia’s Public Defender Service, served as an associate White House counsel under President Bill Clinton and served as a member of the D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission.

In July 2014, Mr. Racine announced his candidacy for Attorney General for the District of Columbia.  On November 4, District residents elected him over four competitors with 37% of the nearly 146,000 votes cast.

Mr. Racine has served on several boards that include the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia and the Whitman-Walker Clinic’s Legal Services Program.   Among his numerous awards, the National Law Journal in 2008 recognized him as one of the “50 Most influential Minority Attorneys” in the nation.

Join us on  Wednesday, Feb 7 beginning at 6:30 p.m. for an enlightening assessment on mass imprisonment and ways that it disproportionately impacts people of color.