Crime: Prison Population: Prison Population by Race

The number of sentenced prisoners under state or federal jurisdiction per 100,000 U.S. residents, by gender, race, Hispanic origin.
The number of sentenced prisoners under state or federal jurisdiction per 100,000
U.S. residents, by gender, race, Hispanic origin.  

Related "Issue of the Day" Entries

Expectations are High as Holder Assumes Office
Published Monday, February 9th, 2009

Eric H. Holder Jr.’s swearing-in as the nation’s first black attorney general comes with a heavy expectation of righting wrongs amongst them: disproportionate prison terms for blacks, racial profiling and discrimination in employment and housing.  However, in several public statements the new Attorney General has spoken about Civil Rights but did not indicate a great desire to seek out and correct broad wrongs in the criminal code. The last administration tried to limit the use of Racial profiling in a statement 2003, which outlined the guidelines for federal law enforcement officers.  President Obama and Attorney General Holder have vowed together the restore public confidence in the department, which has recently been plagued by scandals.

For decades black males have been locked behind bars by the hundreds of thousands, arrested in disproportionate numbers. In fact, black males have experienced the highest rate of imprisonment—6.5 times that of white males and 2.5 that of Hispanic males—of the three major races in the United States. Black males also face execution at rates far greater than those for the general population—approximately 4.5 times more than that of white prisoners and 17.5 times that of Hispanics. In a study of routine traffic stops, racial differences were seen not in stops—blacks and Hispanics were stopped just as often as whites—but overwhelmingly in searches, as blacks and Hispanics were searched nearly 3 times their white counterparts.

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Rate of Imprisonment
Published Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

At the end of 2007 approximately 7.3 million men and women were under correctional supervision in the nation’s prisons, jails, on probation or parole. The report published this month by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics stated that 1 in 31 adults was incarcerated or under supervision at the end of 2007. This rate of 506 per 100,000 residents has remained steady since 1999. The rate figure, when compared to Great Britain who incarcerates only 153 people per 100,000 residents, Canada 108 and Italy 83, has prompted Human Rights Watch to criticize the United States as the world’s leading jailer.

The report also showed large racial disparities, with black males incarcerated at a rate more than 6.5 times that of white males and 2.5 that of Hispanic males. At the end of 2007 there were 3,138 Black male sentenced prisoners per 100,000 Black males in the United States; this is down for the sixth year in a row. The second highest is the rate of 1,259 Hispanic male sentenced prisoners per 100,000 Hispanic males, compared with 481 White male sentenced prisoners per 100,000 White males. Amongst females the same disproportion applies to the rates in that 150 Black, 79 Hispanic and 50 White females per 100,000 of each group were imprisoned.

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Learn More

U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics: Jail Population - http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/pjim06.htm
Presents data on prison and jail inmates collected from National Prisoner Statistics counts and the Annual Survey of Jails, 2006. This annual report provides the number of inmates and the overall incarceration rate per 100,000 residents for each State and the Federal system. It offers trends since 2000 and percentage changes in prison populations since midyear and yearend 2005.

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Department of Justice: Restorative Justice Program - http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/topics/courts/restorative-justice/welcome.htm
For some time now there has been growing dissatisfaction with the justice system. Citizens feel disconnected, victims are dissatisfied, and those working in the system are frustrated. Policymakers are increasingly concerned about the burgeoning cost of justice in the face of this discontent and the high rates of recidivism that exist.