Racial Disparities in Incarceration Increase Acceptance of Punitive Policies

Source: Rebecca C. Hetey, Jennifer L. Eberhardt, Psychological Science, Published online before print August 5, 2014
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From the press release:
Informing the public about African Americans’ disproportionate incarceration rate may actually bolster support for punitive policies that perpetuate inequality, according to a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. Stanford University psychology researchers Rebecca Hetey and Jennifer Eberhardt found that White participants who were exposed to higher racial disparities in incarceration rates reported being more afraid of crime and more likely to support the kinds of punitive policies that exacerbate these racial disparities. This is a photo of hands holding cell bars in a jail.The expansion of harsh policies — such as the three-strikes law in California and other states — has led the United States to have the largest per capita prison population in the world. Not only has the prison population become larger, it has become disproportionately Black. Although Blacks represent 12% of the U.S. population, they now comprise nearly 40% of the prison population. …