B. Criminal Justice
1. The death penalty
State governments may not fully count hate crimes in the South, but they do count executions. Since 1976, 650 people have been executed in the United States; 44 percent were people of color. Only 27 percent of the total national population resides in the South, yet this region has the grim distinction of accounting for 77.5 percent of these executions. Eight of the ten leading states in executions are southern according to the Death Penalty Information Center.10
Alabama sentences more people to death per capita than any other state, followed by Texas. Equal Justice Initiative reports that Blacks in Alabama account for two percent of prosecutors, four percent of criminal court judges, 66 percent of those in prison and nearly 70% of those executed in this state in the past two decades.1
2. Incarceration and political disenfranchisement
Nationally the number of people in prison has increased dramatically in the past decade. Between 1990 and 1999, the number of sentenced prisoners per 100,000 residents increased 60 percent for men and 84 percent for women. The racial/ethnic breakdown of inmates is extremely disproportionate to the racial/ethnic breakdown of the US population, indicating institutionalized racism in law enforcement. African Americans only make up 12.1 percent of the total population, yet 45.7 percent of the prison population is Black.12
Over nine percent of the African American male population (aged 25-29) is in prison, versus one percent of white men in the same age group and three percent of Latinos. Black women are twice as likely as Latino women and eight times more likely than White women to be incarcerated.
In the South the prison population jumped 87 percent overall between 1990 and 1999, more than any other region of the United States. Forty percent of all Federal and State prisoners in the US are in the South. Eight of the top ten states in terms of incarceration rates are Southern: Louisiana and Texas are the top two.
Racism within the criminal justice system is causing the political disenfranchisement of a significant number of African Americans. In the United States, people in prison or with felony convictions are not allowed to vote.13 According to the Sentencing Project, nationally this means that 13 percent of all Black men cannot vote.
The figures skyrocket in the South. In Alabama, 31 percent of the Black male population has permanently lost the right to vote. Florida is a close second with just over 30 percent disenfranchised according to Human Rights Watch.4
'Whites, 33 percent and Latinos, 17.9 percent.
"(exception of states of Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts where convicted felons are allowed to vote). "Advocacy groups believe this had an impact on the last presidential election, particularly in the hotly contested state of Florida, where nearly one in three black men could not vote. Election figures show that 92% of black voters in the South backed Al Gore.