Research Proposal: The Growth of Incarceration
I. Description of Research Question
The main research question of this essay is, ‘What has impacted the incarceration rate to triple within the last 30 years?’
The amount of imprisoned people has increased rapidly from the 1980’s. The main cause of this situation is the implementation of various Drug Laws, for example, the Rockefeller Drug Laws and 650-Lifer Law. Since 1980s, New York prison population increased by two times from 34605 persons in 1980 to 71466 persons in 2010. However, the amount of incarcerated individuals under drug conviction increased by about 4,8 times from 4631 in 1980 persons to 22266 persons in 2010 (Prison policy initiative, n.d.). It should be mentioned that the main prisoners are the representatives of non-white nations: blacks and Hispanics. For example, in the period from 1976 to 2006, the main marijuana offenses were made against blacks: 54 % of arrested were Afro-Americans, whereas 30 % were Latino and only 14 % were white Americans. However, the main drug users are the whites. Moreover, the situation has not changes in present times. Therefore, the main motivation of this research work is shocking in the past and non-changeable figures on incarceration in the present moment.
These figures show not only rapidly increased amount of prisoners, but they also demonstrate sharp discrimination against non-white population in America. The researchers should not just see the statistical figures. They should describe inhuman and terrible present situation regarding the criminal rate in the USA and also investigate the reasons of these processes, as well as stipulate straight and latent effects of incensement of incarceration and the possible ways of improvement of this problem.
Some related additional work has been done. Different ways of investigation were studied, and the most effective approaches for this work were chosen. Additionally, different drug laws and amendments to them were learned in order to show the complete and comprehensive vision on the problem.
This research is different from any other studies of this particular problem because it will present a vision of the existing problem of incensement of incarceration: describe the legislative, social and economic aspects and interconnect them. Moreover, the research will show future perspectives of increased amount of prisoners and sharp discriminative processes and destructive consequences of these processes.
The main researches are made based on statistical figures of rates of incarcerated during last 30 years, reasons of imprisonment, jurisdiction foundation and examination of impact of imprisonment (economic, social and political). The rate of incarcerated under drug offenses depends on the adopted laws and attitude to suspected individuals. Thus, the figures can vary depending on the state and year.
The main concepts are to determine the basis of implementation of drug laws, their influence on the whole country, and the impact of imprisonment under drug offenses, particularly to examine the discriminative processes of incarceration of non-white Americans for a long time (for 15 years or more) because of drug violations.
Each concept is defined after comprehensive studying of information about drug laws and offenses under these laws. I determined the main aspects that are most important in the present situation. These are the total increasing imprisonment and discrimination processes in the modern juridical system. The main purpose of every study is not only to show past and present figures, but determine their future influence on the life of the whole country and describe the possible solutions of problems.
In addition to my present research, based on existing statistical information, different other approaches can be used. For example, information collected from different regions of the country could be compared in order to determine the amount and race of prisoners. Also, different sentences of the less period of time (for example within the last 5 years) could be examined. The main difference of this approach is that different political, economic and social information is examined in order to show the complete and comprehensive present situation and create future prospects and recommendations.
The target population is not the prisoners. It is common Americans who worry about their country, defense of social guarantees and social rights. Also, this research is some form of recommendation to future activities (based on existing data) to governors that adopt and amend drug laws.
The target population is determined by definition of people for whom this information will be interesting and useful, people upon whom the increasing incarceration rate has direct or indirect impact and people who can change something.
There are different types of research design. However, not all of them are applicable to this particular research question. The design used within this research is based on analyzing the problem further to the existing figures and available information, without any additional researches. The design of collection of the information is historical research design because it is based on the definite figures obtained in different times and contains legislative regulations (drug laws) and amendments to them. Both quantitative and qualitative information was collected, such as statistical figures, different research descriptions and points of views of specialists. Also, applied method of research design has features of descriptive and survey research design because it shows human attitudes to racial minorities (Cassady, n.d.). Additionally, some samples obtained during different researches would be described in this work.
This design will not have a very complicated structure. It will be both retrospective and prospective because the prospects of the future situation will be based on the existing rate and gender of prisoners, and the existing laws and attitudes to racial minorities. This work will present a position of drug laws in terms of application to non-white Americans, which will be further compared with its application to white Americans.
These types of design would more accurately show the background of present high rate of prisoners sentenced for drug violations, as well as the future prospects for the country if the situation does not change. Additionally, these types would describe the discriminative processes in the most thorough way.
In this research work, a probability sampling would be used because the representatives of every unit (race) are showed in the statistical researches, i.e., the percentage of each race is above zero. Additionally, every year there was a certain amount of incarcerators for drug offenses. Several elements would be sampled in the work: rates and amount of total imprisoners for different races and years; rates of total imprisoners for drug offenses for different races and years.
This design will be grounded on actual laws and figures obtained in different years. It will show the existing situation (particular figures) and the prospects for future. The implementation of this design will be changes in attitude to drug offenses and minorities that were charged for different drug violations and, in further perspective, change of laws and social programs regarding the suspected individuals and prisoners for drug violations.
There are different frame methods. However not all of them can be applied to this particular research. The chosen situation will contain the information of quantity and rate of incarceration within last 30 years and races of the prisoners. Obtained figures would be divided based on periods and race of prisoners. These will provide the basis of my researches. Also, some additional information regarding the influence of imprisonments would be necessary (influence on youth, expenses on accommodation and building of new prisons, social development, implications on economics).
The representation sampling design based on probability sampling would be used in the research work. It would be based on a selection of figures representing the quantity of prisoners for drug offenses and their race. This sampling design would provide the background of all studies because it shows the exact figures concerning the main research question.
Only official data would be collected for research because it should be well grounded, exact and exponential. Further prospects and recommendations would be made on the basis of obtained information.
The particular statistical figures collected from the prisons and juridical structures would form the collected information. This project would rely on secondary information. Among the data sources would be previous social, economic and juridical researches, official conclusions and annual and decade reports concerning drug laws, and amendments to them. Most of this information could be obtained freely. However, some data that have been designed for the use of governmental would not be free. The collected information would form the skeleton of my researches, and only based on this information further prospects and recommendations will be made.
The nominal method of measurement would be used in research. The differences between chosen information would be based on its category (the information about prisoners and suspected persons for drug offenses and their race).
The extent of reliability and validity would be achieved by using only the official and checked information on a particular subject (concerning drug laws, amendments to them, incarceration rate within the last 30 years, discrimination processes in juridical system, social and economic impacts).
The example of variable information could be the rate of imprisonment for drug offenses that depends on the state and year. This is because different states in the USA adopted different drug laws, for instance, the state of Michigan adopted a ‘650-Lifer Law’ in 1978 (Gray, 2009).
All possible measures would be applied for controlling of spurious relationships. All information would be checked in official resources. While using the researches of different scientists, thorough analysis would be made in order to avoid mistaken foundation and development of false and inadequate prospects.
IV. Data Analysis
The nominal measures of the research would help to choose the most reasonable and valuable information about drug laws (their development, implementation, amendments and present and future effect on population). The categorizing of the information would help to limit the searching field and obtain only the necessary data.
The retrospective data (past statistical analysis) would be taken as a foundation of this research paper because it will exactly show processes that took place within last 30 years.
The prospective scientific articles would be examined in order to create comprehensive prospects for the future and recommendations.
Only official information would be used for avoiding different mistakes of evaluation and making conclusions.
All the information would be strictly examined in terms of the correspondence to the reality (real facts, real practices, real researches and scientific opinions).
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V. Strengths and Weaknesses
The main strength of this research is the point that the information would be collected from different official researches and statistical summaries. That means that it would be not spurious. The official researches give only adequate and checked information.
Additionally, the particular field of a research paper would be determined, i.e., the research would be made only for the period of 30 years. Mostly the information about prisoners sentenced for drug violations would be used. Also, the drug laws, their implementation, and variation in different states, as well as the results of these laws would be studied carefully.
Therefore, the general field of study would be not very broad. Special frames and limits are determined, and they would be strictly observed in order to obtain and to create accurate information.
The main weakness of this research is the point that obtained information would reflect the situation in general. There would be almost no concretization on the situation of increasing incarceration in particular areas of the country and particular states. Also, the obtained data about prisoners would not be divided by sex, i.e., there would be no division of imprisonment rate for drug violations for women and men. The information would not concern the age of prisoners either.
Different studies concerning incarceration of individuals for drug offenses have been made before. However, most of these studies describe only one of the aspects, for example, discriminating processes, political background, or economic and social influence. In this particular research, I would try to unite all these aspects in order to show the comprehensive vision of a problem and develop ways of problem solving.