Week 5: Incarceration Rates

Day 1: AMRAP Set

Black people are more than 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana offenses than white.
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Before and during the early years of the United States as a nation, the hemp plant from which marijuana originates was encouraged to be grown for medicinal purposes.  In the early 1900s, Mexican immigrants introduced the recreational use of marijuana.  Citizens of the United States tied their disdain for the immigrants to marijuana use, and Anti- drug campaigners worked against the so-called “Marijuana Menace”.  This shifted marijuana from a celebrated medicinal remedy to a feared drug.  In fact, during the Great Depression, that fear caused the criminalization of marijuana use in 29 states.  

The outlawing of the drug was influenced by a supposed link created between marijuana usage and communities of economically depressed communities, or minority races. In the 1950s, mandatory prison sentences of two to ten years for first-offense marijuana possession cases were set. 30 years later, in the War on Drugs era, marijuana possession and heroin possession were equally punished- 1 marijuana plant to 1 gram of heroin- under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act.  Under the same act, repeat drug-offenders receive life-sentences, and individuals identified as drug kingpins of marijuana receive capital punishment- the death penalty.

Today, as well as in the past, black people are disproportionately targeted, arrested and charged for crimes involving marijuana.  Black people are arrested, on average, around 3.5 times more often for marijuana offenses than white people.  By state, the disparities differ. In 2018 in Montana, black people were arrested around 9.6 times more often than white people for marijuana offenses.  Although marijuana has been legalized in Illinois, in 2018, black people were arrested 7.5 times more often than white people.  The list continues, and no state has shown to have an equal rate of arrests for marijuana offenses between black and white people.

More information on this topic can be found in the “Resources” section of the following website, under “Flaws in the Criminal Justice System”:

Athletes Igniting Action

The following websites can also be used to find more information regarding arrest rates related to marijuana offenses:

Marijuana Timeline 

Extreme Racial Disparities Persist in Marijuana Arrests 


35 minutes:
7x 4 minutes AMRAP, 1 minute rest between:
35 dolphin dives, 35 plank hip-dips, 35 squat pulses

Day 2: Full Body

452,964 people were incarcerated for drug offenses in 2017; 40,900 were at the start of the War on Drugs in 1980.
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Since the beginning of the War on Drugs in the 1980s, the number of individuals incarcerated for drug offenses is more than eleven times greater.  In 1980: 40,900 individuals were incarcerated for drug offenses; in 2017: 452,964 people were incarcerated for the same group of crimes.  The number of people incarcerated for drug offenses in 2017 was greater, in fact, than the total number of prisoners within the United States in the 1980s.

Imprisonment is supposed to be a form of deterrence from the crime one has committed to end up in prison.  However, a multitude of studies have shown that there is no apparent deterrent factor linked to the imprisonment of drug offenders.  In a Pew study of the relationship between drug use, deaths due to overdose, and drug arrests, there was no negative correlation found between higher incarceration rates and those three variables, as one might expect.  The more individuals imprisoned for drug related crimes had no significant relationship with the rise or fall of drug related crime, deaths, or arrest rates. 

There might not be a correlation between the rise or fall of drug use and imprisonment rates, however there has always been a correlation between drug arrests and the race of those arrested.  Non-white citizens in each state of the United States have a higher drug imprisonment rate than their white counterparts.  The War on Drugs in the 1980s was targeted towards the black citizens of the United States.  Today, although there is no title similar to “the War on Drugs”, the effects and patterns have remained- blacks are disproportionately arrested for drug offenses. In addition, drugs that have been associated with the black community, such as crack cocaine, are met with much harsher sentences than those of the white community, like cocaine.  

Although it is believed that most crack cocaine users are black, in the early 2000s, the majority of crack cocaine users were white.  Those who were defendants in cases regarding crack cocaine, however, were mostly black. In addition, the difference in form of crack cocaine and cocaine caused a difference in sentencing- however it has been found that the preparation and form of cocaine has no effect on the reaction to the drug- the frequency and amount used are what cause a reaction.  Those issues are met best with treatment and prevention, not imprisonment.

If drug use were treated as an illness- as something that negatively affects someone’s health- the rates of recidivism would most likely fall.  If prevention efforts increased, such as the access of educational resources regarding the effects of drug use, and specific programs tailored towards those who are at a higher risk of increased drug use, there would most likely be a fall in rates of drug use.  If those who use drugs were met with treatment options as opposed to prison time, the recidivism into patterns of drug use would most likely fall.  Prevention and treatment are two options that could save drug users lives, and reduce the imprisonment rates of drug offenders that has proven to be useless. 

More information on this topic can be found in the “Resources” section of the following website, under “Criminal Justice System Facts”:

Athletes Igniting Action

The following websites can also be used to find more information regarding incarceration rates related to drug offenses:

More Imprisonment Does Not Reduce State Drug Problems 

Racial Disparities in the War on Drugs

Cracks in the System


​11 Sets:
45 second plank
29 jumping jacks
64 side crunches (32 each side)

Day 3: Cardio Challenge

Black men are 6 times more likely to be incarcerated than white men.
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Based on the progress that has been made since the 1950s, one would believe that the difference in incarceration rates between Black and White men would have narrowed. However, this does not seem to be the case. In 1960, Black men were five times more likely to be incarcerated than their white counterparts, according to the Pew Research Center. Fifty years later, Black men are now six times more likely to be incarcerated than white men. In 2010, the incarceration rate of White men per 100,000 residents was approximately 678 inmates, compared to 4,347 Black inmates. 

A common counter argument used- often by those who believe that Law Enforcement does not operate under the influence of implicit biases and racial stereotypes- is that the reason the Black incarceration rate is particularly high is because Black Americans are responsible for a high fraction of crime in America. However, this argument does not acknowledge the stereotypes and beliefs that exist as a result of a media saturated with images of Black criminals. The criminalization of many drugs led to the arrest of Black Americans at a rate which was significantly higher than that of White Americans, though race has little to no impact on one’s likelihood of being or becoming a drug user.

These biases can be attributed to several cognitive factors, such as Group Attribution error and Confirmation Bias. Group Attribution error allows people to make assumptions and stereotype a larger group based on that characteristics of one member of the group. When combined with prejudices which have been ingrained in society for centuries, this can be attributed to lots of negative stereotypes of the Black population holistically. This then leads officers to make generalizations about Black people that are unfair and can cause unnecessary arrests. Confirmation bias, which is defined as “ tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information that confirms or supports one’s prior beliefs or values”, allows an implicitly biased police officer to continue to target the Black community.

More information on this topic can be found in the “Resources” section of the following website, under “Criminal Justice System Facts”.

Athletes Igniting Action

The following websites can also be used to find more information regarding incarceration rates related to drug offenses:

Confirmation bias

Incarceration gap widens between whites and blacks


6 miles of choice cardio

Day 4: Short Body-Burner

Black people makeup 12.5% of the population of drug users, but 29% of those arrested for drug crimes and 33% of those incarcerated for said drug crimes.
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At a glance, the demographics of those prosecuted for drug related crimes appears to be primarily white, but with a large Black population as well. This Black population isn’t just disproportionately large, it’s 33% of all people incarcerated for drug crimes- more than twice the percent of drug users that are black (just 12.5% of all drug users).Since 12.5% of drug users are black, and Black people makeup 12.5% of the US population, this suggests that Black people aren’t using more drugs- they’re just facing the consequences much more severely.

When this is further broken down, drug and substance addiction rates within different racial groups shows that a larger portion of White Americans suffer from some form of addiction than Black Americans. 7.7% of the White population has a substance disorder, compared to 6.9% of the Black population. This shows how unfair the disproportionate incarceration of Black Americans truly is- Black people are no more likely than White people to be addicted to drugs or have a substance disorder.

More information on this topic can be found in the “Resources” section of the following website, under “Flaws in the Criminal Justice System”.

Athletes Igniting Action

The following websites can also be used to find more information regarding drug crimes and incarcdration rates for those crimes:

Addiction Among Different Races in the US
There’s Overwhelming Evidence That Our Criminal Justice System is Racist. Here’s Proof:


12x pull-ups

2x 9 rounds of: 10 crunches, 10 pushups, 10 second one-leg squat hold

2x 30 second choice leg stretches

Day 5: Lower Body and Abs

63% of black people have at least one family member incarcerated, compared to 42% of white people. 
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According to a survey conducted in 2018 by the American Sociological Association, 63% of Black people and 42% of White people have an incarcerated family member.  The effects of having family members in prison has shown to be detrimental, with specific connections made between having parental figures incarcerated and the effects on their children. 

Because Black people are incarcerated by much higher rates than White people, more Black parents are incarcerated than White.  Therefore, Black children are more often separated from their parents, and end up in homes other than their own- their relatives’ or foster homes- without direct parental care. When children live away from family, such as in foster homes, the stability that comes with parental figures is lost, and behavioral and mental development is usually negatively affected.

When children’s parents or parental figures are imprisoned, vital life skills that are usually either taught or modeled by their parents might not be obtained.  It has been found that children whose parents are incarcerated are twice as likely to develop ADD, ADHD, and learning disabilities.  Also, children are three times more likely to suffer from depression, or develop behavioral problems if their parents are incarcerated.

More information on this topic can be found in the “Resources” section of the following website, under “Flaws in the Criminal Justice System”:

Athletes Igniting Action

The following websites can also be used to find more information regarding the effects of parental incarceration on children’s development:

Parents’ Imprisonment Linked to Children’s Health, Behavioral Problems

Racial Disparities in Children with Behavior Problems in School: Causes and Solutions


6 minutes tabata abs (30 seconds on, 15 off)
3 minute tabata pushups (45 on, 15 off)
4 minutes tabata squats (50 on, 10 off)
2 minutes choice stretching

Day 6: Full Body

When black and white men commit the same crime, the black men’s sentence is usually around 20% longer.
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The United States’ criminal justice system is based on a general trust in judicial bodies to hold a type of “moral high ground”,  determine right from wrong, and place a crime on a scale of varying severity. It’s important to recognize that this is entirely subjective, and a sentence could change based on who determines the sentence. So, in a country that was founded on principles of white supremacy, judges and jurors are subject to having the same implicit biases that have been present in society since its inception. 

This bias leads to sentences that are 20% longer for Black people than for white people, even when the crime is identical in severity. Black men are also 21.2% less likely than White Men to receive a non-governmental sponsored downward departure during the Post-Report period. These departures are sentences in which the judge will choose to sentence below the guidelines outlined by law. Even when Black men did receive a non-government sponsored departure or variance, they received sentences more than 16% percent longer than White male offenders who received a non-government sponsored departure or variance. When we see the Black community unjustly represented in the prison system, and understand the biases that cause this injustice, it becomes clear that Black people aren’t just “committing more crime”.

More information on this topic can be found in the “Resources” section of the following website, under “Flaws in the Criminal Justice System”:

Athletes Igniting Action

The following websites can also be used to find more information regarding prison sentences:

Demographic Differences in Sentencing
There’s overwhelming evidence that our criminal justice system is racist. Here’s proof:


20 minute whole body workout:
4x 5 minute circuit, 1 minute each of: pushups, elbow plank, chair pose, burpees, dolphin pose 

Day 7: Sprint Intervals

Black youths make up about 14% of the youth population, but 53% of minors with cases transferred to adult court.
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A study conducted in 2018, outlined by a Social Justice Brief, concluded that although Black youth make up 14% of the youth population, they make up 53% of the minors whose cases are transferred to adult court. This is allowed by law in the United States, as youth are permitted to be tried in adult court in any state if those in charge decide that their case does not belong in juvenile court.  If a judge in the juvenile court decides a youth’s case does not belong there, they have the power to transfer their case to adult court.

The ability to transfer a minor’s case to adult court is a power that disregards the amount of mental development youth go through.  Because Black youth are sent to adult court and adult prison more often, they are more likely to suffer psychiatric illnesses and commit suicide while incarcerated.  They also have higher rates of recidivism when they are released from prison.  Youth in adult prisons are also more prone to abuse from their older prison-mates and guards, so they are placed in solitary confinement for supposed safety.  However, solitary confinement takes such a mental toll on those who are placed there that the youth experience even more mentally detrimental effects of prison. 

Even though youth are able to commit especially heinous crimes, there is a stage of development that can be significantly hindered or halted when they are placed in adult situations without prior exposure or knowledge regarding how they should handle themselves.  Adult prison is just that- prison for adults- for those who are developed mentally and physically to supposedly be able to make their own decisions and act on their own accord.  Juvenile detention is in place as more of a rehabilitation center for the youth who have made poor decisions- some much worse than others- and need a place to be separated from society to know what they have done wrong, and learn how to more properly function in society.

More information on this topic can be found in the “Resources” section of the following website, under “Flaws in the Criminal Justice System”.

Athletes Igniting Action

The following resource can also be used to learn more about the effects of adult prison on youths:

The Color of Youth Transferred to the Adult Criminal Justice System: Policy & Practice Recommendations


14 minutes cardio with 53 seconds sprint every other minute

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