Africa, News

The Union Jack Means Many Blacks are Behind Bars

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Union Jack
Union Jack

Although there are more than 1 million African-American men housed in the nation’s prisons for crimes they did or did not commit, the numbers are disproportionately higher in the United Kingdom, which at one time was the world’s leading slave trader.

According to the Young Review, a report that addresses ways to improve the outcomes for blacks and Muslims in the criminal justice system in England and Wales, 13.1 % of prisoners self identify as black, compared with approximately 2.9% of the over-18 population recorded in the 2011 census,” states the 60-page report titled “Improving Outcomes for Young Black Men and/or Muslim Men in the Criminal Justice System.”

Baroness Lola Young
Baroness Lola Young

Muslim prisoners account for 13.4 % of the prison population compared with 4.2% of the general population, according to the 2011 census.

“If, as was reported to us, the criminal justice system’s approach to young black men of African- Caribbean descent is based on the supposition that they belong to a gang, and that young Muslim men are, or will be, engaged  in terrorist activity. Such attitudes on the part of the police, probation officers, prison staff and so on lead to risk assessments that take little account of the individual’s vulnerabilities,” the study said.

The report notes, “The damage to individual victims and whole communities, the obvious waste of human talent, and the significant social and economic costs should be enough of an explanation as to why this subject matters,” the report stated.

The Young Review, named in honor of Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey, published its final report in December 2014.

England was at one time the world’s largest slave trader, according to the book “Britain’s Black Debt: Reparations for Caribbean Slavery and Native Genocide.”

The Sentencing Project, which is based in Washington, D.C., reported that although indigenous people represent only 2.5% of Australia’s total population,they constitute 27% of those incarcerated. The Sentencing Project, which supports alternative sentencing, based its report on work done by Al Jazeera, the TV network and website.


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