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Race and Prison

  1. Basic Data

    (Sentenced State and Federal Prisoners in the US as of 12/31/13, by Race, Ethnicity, and Gender)

    Sentenced state and federal prisoners, by age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin, December 31, 2013
    Total Malea White Non-Hispanicc Black Non-Hispanicc Hispanic Otherb,c
    1,412,745 454,100 526,000 314,600 118,100
    Total Femalea White Non-Hispanicc Black Non-Hispanicc Hispanic Otherb,c
    104,134 51,500 23,100 17,600 11,900
    Total All Gendersa,d White Non-Hispanicc Black Non-Hispanicc Hispanic Otherb,c
    1,516,879 505,600 549,100 332,200 130,000

    Note: Counts based on prisoners with a sentence of more than 1 year under the jurisdiction of state or federal correctional officials. Missing data were imputed for Illinois and Nevada.
    a/Detail may not sum to total due to rounding, inmates age 17 or younger, and missing race/Hispanic origin data.
    b/Includes American Indians, Alaska Natives, Asians, Native Hawaiians, other Pacific Islanders, and persons identifying two or more races.
    c/Excludes persons of Hispanic or Latino orgin.
    d/Includes persons age 17 or younger.
    Sources: Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Prisoner Statistics Program, 2013; Federal Justice Statistics Program, 2013; National Corrections Reporting Program, 2012; and Survey of Inmates in State and Local Correctional Facilities, 2004.

    E. Ann Carson and Daniela Golinelli, Estimated count of sentenced state and federal prisoners, by sex, race, Hispanic origin, and age, December 31, 2013 (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, August 7, 2014). Data table generated using the Corrections Statistical Analysis Tool at on November 28, 2014.

  2. (Imprisonment Rates In The US By Race, Age, And Gender, 2013) "At yearend 2013, 17% of all inmates (253,800) were ages 30 to 34, while an estimated 2% (31,900) were age 65 or older (table 7). An estimated 58% of male inmates and 61% of female inmates in state or federal prison were age 39 or younger. Among males, white prisoners were generally older than black or Hispanic prisoners. An estimated 17,300 inmates age 65 or older (54%) were white males.
    "BJS uses race and Hispanic origin distributions from its 2004 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities to adjust the administrative data from NPS to reflect self-identification of race and Hispanic origin by prisoners (see Methodology). On December 31, 2013, about 37% of imprisoned males were black, 32% were white, and 22% were Hispanic. Among females in state or federal prison at yearend 2013, 49% were white, compared to 22% who were black and 17% who were Hispanic.
    "Almost 3% of black male U.S. residents of all ages were imprisoned on December 31, 2013 (2,805 inmates per 100,000 black male U.S. residents), compared to 1% of Hispanic males (1,134 per 100,000) and 0.5% of white males (466 per 100,000) (table 8). While there were fewer black females in state or federal prison at yearend 2013 than in 2012, black females were imprisoned at more than twice the rate of white females.
    "Black males had higher imprisonment rates across all age groups than all other races and Hispanic males. In the age range with the highest imprisonment rates for males (ages 25 to 39), black males were imprisoned at rates at least 2.5 times greater than Hispanic males and 6 times greater than white males. For males ages 18 to 19—the age range with the greatest difference in imprisonment rates between whites and blacks — black males (1,092 inmates per 100,000 black males) were more than 9 times more likely to be imprisoned than white males (115 inmates per 100,000 white males). The difference between black and white female inmates of the same age was smaller, but still substantial. Black females ages 18 to 19 (33 inmates per 100,000) were almost 5 times more likely to be imprisoned than white females (7 inmates per 100,000)."

    Carson, E. Ann. Prisoners In 2013. Washington, DC: US Dept of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sept. 2014, NCJ247282, p. 8.

  3. (Jail Inmate Population in the US by Gender and by Race/Ethnicity, 2014) "Males have made up at least 85% of the jail population since 2000. The female inmate population increased 18.1% (up 16,700 inmates) between midyear 2010 and 2014, while the male population declined 3.2% (down 20,900 inmates) (table 2, table 3). The female jail population grew by an average of about 1.6% every year between 2005 and 2014. In comparison, the male jail population declined by 0.3% every year since 2005 (not shown).
    "White inmates accounted for 47% of the total jail population, blacks represented 35%, and Hispanics represented 15% at midyear 2014. From midyear 2010 to 2014, white inmates increased by 21,200, while black (19,400) and Hispanic (7,500) inmates declined."

    At mid-year 2014, local jails in the US held 744,592 people of whom 635,500 were male and 109,100 were female. Juveniles held as adults numbered 3,700, plus an additional 500 juveniles were held as juveniles. Racial demographics were as follows: white, 352,800; black/African-American, 263,800; Hispanic/Latino, 110,600; American Indian/Alaska native: 10,400; Asian/native Hawaiian/other Pacific islander: 6,000; two or more races: 1,000.

    Todd D. Minton and Zhen Zeng, PhD, "Jail Inmates at Midyear 2014," Bureau of Justice Statistics (Washington, DC: Department of Justice, June 2015), NCJ248629, Table 2, p. 3.

  4. (Black Males in Prison) "Between 6.6% and 7.5% of all black males ages 25 to 39 were imprisoned in 2011, which were the highest imprisonment rates among the measured sex, race, Hispanic origin, and age groups."

    Carson, E. Ann, and Sabol, William J., "Prisoners in 2011" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Dec. 2012), NCJ239808, p. 8.

  5. (People In The US Serving Time In State Prison For Drug Offenses, by Race, 2012) The most serious offense for 210,200 people in the US sentenced to state facilities at the end of 2012 was a conviction involving illegal drugs. Of this total: 64,800 (30.83%) were non-Hispanic white, 79,300 (37.73%) were non-Hispanic black and 41,100 (19.55%) were Hispanic.

    (Note: The Bureau of Justice Statistics annual report on prisoners does not provide separate counts for inmates who identify as American Indians, Alaska Natives, Asians, Native Hawaiians, other Pacific Islanders, and persons identifying two or more races.)

    Carson, E. Ann. Prisoners In 2013. Washington, DC: US Dept of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sept. 2014, NCJ247282, Table 14, p. 16.

  6. (Female Incarceration Rates by Race/Ethnicity) According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, at midyear 2010, the incarceration rate for females was 126 per 100,000 population. The rate for non-Hispanic white females was 91, for non-Hispanic black females the rate was 260, and for Hispanic women the rate was 133.

    Glaze, Lauren E., "Correctional Population in the United States, 2010," Bureau of Justice Statistics (Washington, DC: Department of Justice, December 2011), NCJ 236319, Appendix Table 3, p. 8.

  7. (Adults on Community Supervision by Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Most Serious Offense) According to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics:
    Of the 3,971,319 adults on probation as of 12/31/2011, 75% were male and 25% were female. Also, 54% of probationers were non-Hispanic Whites, 31% were non_Hispanic Blacks, 13% were Hispanic/Latino, 1% were American Indian/Alaska Native, and 1% were Asian/Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander. Drug offenses were the most serious offenses for 25% of all probationers in 2011.
    Of the 853,852 adults on parole as of 12/31/2011, 89% were male and 11% were female. Also, 41% were non-Hispanic Whites, 39% were non-Hispanic Blacks, 18% were Hispanic/Latino, and 1% were American Indian/Alaska Native. Drug offenses were the most serious offense for 33% of all parolees in 2011.

    Maruschak, Laura M., and Parks, Erika, Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Probation and Parole in the United States, 2011" (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, November 2012), NCJ 239686, Appendix Table 2, p. 16; Appendix Table 3, p. 17; Appendix Table 4, p. 18; and Appendix Table 6, p. 20.

  8. (Estimated Population of Young Adults in the US With a Parent Who Has Ever Spent Time in Jail or Prison) "The prevalence of any PI [Parental Incarceration] was 12.5% with the 95% confidence interval (CI) of 11.3% to 13.8%. The distribution of incarceration status by category was: neither parent (87.5%, 95% CI: 86.2%–88.7%), father only (9.9%, 95% CI: 8.9%–10.9%), mother only (1.7%, 95% CI: 1.4%–2.0%), and both parents (0.9%, 95% CI: 0.7%–1.2%). A significant association was found between race and PI. Black and Hispanic individuals had the highest prevalence of PI, 20.6% and 14.8%, compared with 11.9% for white individuals and 11.6% for those classified as other. Pairwise comparison indicated the black and white prevalence rates were significantly different."

    Note: Regarding study sample size: "The current study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), a 4-wave longitudinal study following a nationally representative probability sample of adolescents in grades 7 through 12 in the 1994–1995 school year.46 The first 3 waves of Add
    Health data were collected from April to December 1995, from April to August 1996, and from August 2001 to April 2002. The fourth wave of data was collected in 2007 and 2008. The full sample for Wave 4 included 15 701 or 80.3% of the eligible participants from Wave 1. The response rates for Waves 1, 2, 3, and 4 were 79.0%, 88.6%, 77.4%, and 80.3%, respectively. The mean ages of participants during the 4 waves of data collection were 15.7 years, 16.2 years, 22.0 years, and 28.8 years, respectively.
    "The current study was based on 14,800 participants who were interviewed during Wave 1 and Wave 4 and have a sampling weight. Of the 15,701 participants who participated in both Wave 1 and Wave 4 interviews, 14,800 participants have a sampling weight at Wave 4 interview that could be used to compute population estimates. For data analysis, data describing participants’ sociodemographic characteristics from Wave 1 of the Add Health study were combined with Wave 4 self-reported health outcomes and PI history."

    Rosalyn D. Lee, Xiangming Fang and Feijun Luo, "The Impact of Parental Incarceration on the Physical and Mental Health of Young Adults." Pediatrics 2013;131;e1188; originally published online March 18, 2013; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-0627.

  9. (Incarceration Rates by Race and Gender) "Changes in the incarceration rates for men and women by race were associated with changes to the overall composition of the custody population at midyear 2007. Black men had an incarceration rate of 4,618 per 100,000 U.S. residents at midyear 2007, down from 4,777 at midyear 2000. For white men, the midyear 2007 incarceration rate was 773 per 100,000 U.S. residents, up from 683 at midyear 2000. The ratio of the incarceration rates of black men to white men declined from 7 to 6 during this period.

    "Changes in the incarceration rates for women were more distinct. At midyear 2000, black women were incarcerated at a rate 6 times that of white women (or 380 per 100,000 U.S. residents versus 63 per 100,000 U.S. residents). By June 30, 2007, the incarceration rate for black women declined to 3.7 times that of white women (or 348 versus 95). An 8.4% decline in the incarceration rate for black women and a 51% increase in the rate for white women accounted for the overall decrease in the incarceration rate of black women relative to white women at midyear 2007."

    Sabol, William J., PhD, and Couture, Heather, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prison Inmates at Midyear 2007 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, June 2008), NCJ221944, p. 8.

  10. (Male Incarceration Rate In The US 2007, By Race/Ethnicity) "The custody incarceration rate for black males was 4,618 per 100,000. Hispanic males were incarcerated at a rate of 1,747 per 100,000. Compared to the estimated numbers of black, white, and Hispanic males in the U.S. resident population, black males (6 times) and Hispanic males (a little more than 2 times) were more likely to be held in custody than white males. At midyear 2007 the estimated incarceration rate of white males was 773 per 100,000.

    "Across all age categories, black males were incarcerated at higher rates than white or Hispanic males. Black males ages 30 to 34 had the highest custody incarceration rate of any race, age, or gender group at midyear 2007."

    Sabol, William J., PhD, and Couture, Heather, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prison Inmates at Midyear 2007 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, June 2008), NCJ221944, p. 7.

  11. (Inmates by Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Age) "Of the 2.3 million inmates in custody, 2.1 million were men and 208,300 were women (table 9). Black males represented the largest percentage (35.4%) of inmates held in custody, followed by white males (32.9%) and Hispanic males (17.9%).
    "Over a third (33.8%) of the total male custody population was ages 20 to 29 (appendix table 10). The largest percentage of black (35.5%) and Hispanic (39.9%) males held in custody were ages 20 to 29. White males ages 35 to 44 accounted for the largest percentage (30.1%) of the white male custody population.
    "The largest percentage (35.9%) of the female custody population was ages 30 to 39. Over a third of white females (35.9%) were ages 30 and 39. The largest percentage (36.8%) of Hispanic females in custody was ages 20 to 29."

    Sabol, William J., PhD, and Couture, Heather, "Prison Inmates at Midyear 2007," (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, June 2008), NCJ221944, p. 7.

  12. (Children with Parents Behind Bars) "Among white children in 1980, only 0.4 of 1 percent had an incarcerated parent; by 2008 this figure had increased to 1.75 percent. Rates of parental incarceration are roughly double among Latino children, with 3.5 percent of children having a parent locked up by 2008. Among African American children, 1.2 million, or about 11 percent, had a parent incarcerated by 2008."

    Western , Bruce; Pettit, Becky, "Incarceration & social inequality," Dædalus (Cambridge, MA: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Summer 2010), p. 16.

  13. (Parents Behind Bars, 2008) "The growth of incarceration in America has intergenerational impacts that policy makers will have to confront. According to this analysis, more than 1.2 million inmates — over half of the 2.3 million people behind bars — are parents of children under age 18. This includes more than 120,000 mothers and more than 1.1 million fathers. The racial concentration that characterizes incarceration rates also extends to incarcerated parents. Nearly half a million black fathers, for example, are behind bars, a number that represents 40 percent of all incarcerated parents.
    "The most alarming news lurking within these figures is that there are now 2.7 million minor children (under age 18) with a parent behind bars. (See Figure 9.) Put more starkly, 1 in every 28 children in the United States — more than 3.6 percent — now has a parent in jail or prison. Just 25 years ago, the figure was only 1 in 125.
    "For black children, incarceration is an especially common family circumstance. More than 1 in 9 black children has a parent in prison or jail, a rate that has more than quadrupled in the past 25 years. (See Figure 10.)
    "Because far more men than women are behind bars, most children with an incarcerated parent are missing their father.37 For example, more than 10 percent of African American children have an incarcerated father, and 1 percent have an incarcerated mother."

    The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2010. Collateral Costs: Incarceration’s Effect on Economic Mobility. Washington, DC: The Pew Charitable Trusts, p. 18.

  14. (Parents in Prison) "Similar to men in the general prison population (93%), parents held in the nation's prisons at midyear 2007 were mostly male (92%) (not shown in table). More than 4 in 10 fathers were black, about 3 in 10 were white, and about 2 in 10 were Hispanic (appendix table 2). An estimated 1,559,200 children had a father in prison at midyear 2007; nearly half (46%) were children of black fathers.

    "Almost half (48%) of all mothers held in the nation's prisons at midyear 2007 were white, 28% were black, and 17% were Hispanic. Of the estimated 147,400 children with a mother in prison, about 45% had a white mother. A smaller percentage of the children had a black (30%) or Hispanic (19%) mother."

    Glaze, Lauren E. and Maruschak, Laura M., "Parents in Prison and Their Minor Children" (Washington, DC: USDOJ, Bureau of Justice Statistics, August 2008, Revised March 30, 2010), NCJ222984, p. 2.

  15. (Odds of Incarceration for Marijuana in CA) "Compared to Non-blacks, California’s African-American population are 4 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana, 12 times more likely to be imprisoned for a marijuana felony arrest, and 3 times more likely to be imprisoned per marijuana possession arrest. Overall, as Figure 3 illustrates, these disparities accumulate to 10 times’ greater odds of an African-American being imprisoned for marijuana than other racial/ethnic groups."

    Males, Mike, "Misdemeanor marijuana arrests are skyrocketing and other California marijuana enforcement disparities," Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (San Francisco, CA: November 2011), p. 6.

  16. (Incarceration of People of Color) "Mass arrests and incarceration of people of color – largely due to drug law violations46 – have hobbled families and communities by stigmatizing and removing substantial numbers of men and women. In the late 1990s, nearly one in three African-American men aged 20-29 were under criminal justice supervision, 47 while more than two out of five had been incarcerated – substantially more than had been incarcerated a decade earlier and orders of magnitudes higher than that for the general population.48 Today, 1 in 15 African-American children and 1 in 42 Latino children have a parent in prison, compared to 1 in 111 white children.49 In some areas, a large majority of African-American men – 55 percent in Chicago, for example50 – are labeled felons for life, and, as a result, may be prevented from voting and accessing public housing, student loans and other public assistance."

    "Drug Courts Are Not the Answer: Toward a Health-Centered Approach to Drug Use" Drug Policy Alliance (New York, NY: March 2011), p. 9.

  17. (Problems of Systemic Racial Biases Within Drug Courts) "Importantly, representation of African-Americans in jails and prisons was nearly twice that of both Drug Courts and probation, and was also substantially higher among all arrestees for drug-related offenses. On one hand, these discrepancies might be explained by relevant differences in the populations. For example, minority arrestees might be more likely to have the types of prior convictions that could exclude them from eligibility for Drug Courts or probation. On the other hand, systemic differences in plea-bargaining, charging or sentencing practices might be having the practical effect of denying Drug Court and other community-based dispositions to otherwise needy and eligible minority citizens. Further research is needed to determine whether racial or ethnic minority citizens are being denied the opportunity for Drug Court for reasons that may be unrelated to their legitimate clinical needs or legal eligibility."

    West Huddleston and Douglas B. Marlowe, "Painting the Current Picture: A National Report on Drug Courts and Other Problem Solving Court Programs in the United States" (Alexandria, VA: National Drug Court Institute, July 2011), NCJ 235776, p. 29.

  18. (Racism and the War on Drugs) "The main obstacle to getting black America past the illusion that racism is still a defining factor in America is the strained relationship between young black men and police forces. The massive number of black men in prison stands as an ongoing and graphically resonant rebuke to all calls to 'get past racism,' exhibit initiative, or stress optimism. And the primary reason for this massive number of black men in jail is the War on Drugs. Therefore, if the War on Drugs were terminated, the main factor keeping race-based resentment a core element in the American social fabric would no longer exist. America would be a better place for all."

    McWhorter, John, "How the War on Drugs Is Destroying Black America," Cato's Letter (Washington, DC: The Cato Institute, Winter 2011), p. 1.

  19. (Racial Disparities in Enforcement and Incarceration) "The racial disparities in the rates of drug arrests culminate in dramatic racial disproportions among incarcerated drug offenders. At least two-thirds of drug arrests result in a criminal conviction.18 Many convicted drug offenders are sentenced to incarceration: an estimated 67 percent of convicted felony drug defendants are sentenced to jail or prison.19 The likelihood of incarceration increases if the defendant has a prior conviction.20 Since blacks are more likely to be arrested than whites on drug charges, they are more likely to acquire the convictions that ultimately lead to higher rates of incarceration. Although the data in this backgrounder indicate that blacks represent about one-third of drug arrests, they constitute 46 percent of persons convicted of drug felonies in state courts.21 Among black defendants convicted of drug offenses, 71 percent received sentences to incarceration in contrast to 63 percent of convicted white drug offenders.22 Human Rights Watch’s analysis of prison admission data for 2003 revealed that relative to population, blacks are 10.1 times more likely than whites to be sent to prison for drug offenses.23"

    Fellner, Jamie, "Decades of Disparity: Drug Arrests and Race in the United States," Human Rights Watch (New York, NY: March 2009), p. 16.

  20. (Racial and Gender Disparities) "Looking at the numbers through the lenses of race and gender reveals stark differences. Black adults are four times as likely as whites and nearly 2.5 times as likely as Hispanics to be under correctional control. One in 11 black adults—9.2 percent—was under correctional supervision at year end 2007. And although the number of female offenders continues to grow, men of all races are under correctional control at a rate five times that of women."

    Pew Center on the States, "One in 31: The Long Reach of American Coorections," (Washington, DC: The Pew Charitable Trusts, March 2009), p. 5.

  21. (Incarceration Rates Compared) "When incarceration rates by State (excluding Federal inmates) are estimated separately by gender, race, and Hispanic origin, male rates are found to be 10 times higher than female rates; black rates 5-1/2 times higher than white rates; and Hispanic rates nearly 2 times higher than white rates."

    Harrison, Paige M., & Beck, Allen J., PhD, Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2005" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, May 2006) (NCJ213133), p. 10.

  22. (Chance of Imprisonment, 2001) "In 2001, the chances of going to prison were highest among black males (32.2%) and Hispanic males (17.2%) and lowest among white males (5.9%). The lifetime chances of going to prison among black females (5.6%) were nearly as high as for white males. Hispanic females (2.2%) and white females (0.9%) had much lower chances of going to prison."

    Bonczar, Thomas P., US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Prevalence of Imprisonment in the US Population, 1974-2001," NCJ197976 (Washington DC: US Department of Justice, August 2003), p. 8.

  23. (Parents in Prison, 1999) "Of the Nation's 72.3 million minor children in 1999, 2.1% had a parent in State or Federal prison. Black children (7.0%) were nearly 9 times more likely to have a parent in prison than white children (0.8%). Hispanic children (2.6%) were 3 times as likely as white children to have an inmate parent."

    Mumola, Christopher J., US Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Incarcerated Parents and Their Children (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, August 2000), p. 2.

  24. (Offense Distribution of People Serving Time In State Prisons in the US, 2011, by Race/Ethnicity and Gender) "In 2012 (the most recent year for which data were available), 54% of inmates in state prisons were serving sentences for violent offenses (707,500 prisoners), and 19% (247,100) were convicted of property offenses (table 13 and table 14). Robbery (179,500) was the most common violent offense among state prisoners in 2012, followed by murder and nonnegligent manslaughter (166,800) and rape or sexual assault (160,900). A higher percentage of males (55%) were imprisoned for violent offenses than females (37%).
    "As with the imprisonment rates presented in table 7, the race and Hispanic origin estimates have been adjusted using the 2004 Survey of Inmates in State Correctional Facilities to account for differences between the NPS administrative data and self-reported race and Hispanic origin (see Methodology).
    "Equivalent proportions of black (58%) and Hispanic (60%) prisoners were convicted of violent offenses, while the percentage of white inmates (49%) serving time for violent crimes was smaller. The percentage of white prisoners convicted of any sexual assault (17%) was greater than black (8%) and Hispanic (13%) prisoners.
    "Drug offenders comprised 16% (210,200 inmates) of the total state prison population in 2012. Twenty-five percent of female prisoners were serving time for drug offenses, compared to 15% of male prisoners. Similar proportions of white, black, and Hispanic offenders were convicted of drug and public-order crimes."

    Carson, E. Ann. Prisoners In 2013. Washington, DC: US Dept of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sept. 2014, NCJ247282, p. 15.

  25. Sociopolitical Research

    (Incarceration of Young African-American Men) "The spectacular growth in the American penal system over the last three decades was concentrated in a small segment of the population, among young minority men with very low levels of education. By the early 2000s, prison time was a common life event for this group, and today more than two-thirds of African American male dropouts are expected to serve time in state or federal prison. These demographic contours of mass imprisonment have created a new class of social outsiders whose relationship to the state and society is wholly different from the rest of the population."

    Western , Bruce; Pettit, Becky, "Incarceration & social inequality," Dædalus (Cambridge, MA: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Summer 2010), p. 16.

  26. (Effects of "Three-Strikes" Laws) Due to harsh new sentencing guidelines, such as 'three-strikes, you're out,' "a disproportionate number of young Black and Hispanic men are likely to be imprisoned for life under scenarios in which they are guilty of little more than a history of untreated addiction and several prior drug-related offenses... States will absorb the staggering cost of not only constructing additional prisons to accommodate increasing numbers of prisoners who will never be released but also warehousing them into old age."

    Craig Haney, Ph.D., and Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D., "The Past and Future of U.S. Prison Policy: Twenty-five Years After the Stanford Prison Experiment," American Psychologist, Vol. 53, No. 7 (July 1998), p. 718.

  27. (Impact of Racial Disparities) At the start of the 1990s, the U.S. had more Black men (between the ages of 20 and 29) under the control of the nation's criminal justice system than the total number in college. This and other factors have led some scholars to conclude that, "crime control policies are a major contributor to the disruption of the family, the prevalence of single parent families, and children raised without a father in the ghetto, and the 'inability of people to get the jobs still available.'"

    Craig Haney, Ph.D., and Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D., "The Past and Future of U.S. Prison Policy: Twenty-five Years After the Stanford Prison Experiment," American Psychologist, Vol. 53, No. 7 (July 1998), p. 716.

  28. (Injustice of Racial Disparities) "The racially disproportionate nature of the war on drugs is not just devastating to black Americans. It contradicts faith in the principles of justice and equal protection of the laws that should be the bedrock of any constitutional democracy; it exposes and deepens the racial fault lines that continue to weaken the country and belies its promise as a land of equal opportunity; and it undermines faith among all races in the fairness and efficacy of the criminal justice system. Urgent action is needed, at both the state and federal level, to address this crisis for the American nation."

    Summary and Recommendations from "Punishment and Prejudice: Racial Disparities in the War on Drugs" (Washington, DC: Human Rights Watch, June 2000)

  29. (Strip Searches of Arrestees, England) "One study on the role of closed circuit television in a London police station emphasizes the potential for abuse and discrimination when police officers have discretion to strip search detainees.174 From May 1999 to September 2000, officers in the station processed over 7000 arrests.175 The station’s policy allowed officers of the same sex to conduct strip searches only if they felt it was necessary to remove drugs or a harmful object.176
    "For each arrest, the researchers documented the detainee’s age, sex, ethnicity, and offense.177 A statistical analysis of these factors revealed that, as expected, people arrested for drug offenses were the most likely to be strip searched.178 The results also showed that while all other variables (age, sex, and offense) were controlled, females were less likely to be strip searched than males, and arrestees who were seventeen to twenty-three years old were more likely to be strip searched than other age groups.179 In addition, ethnicity influenced whether a strip search was conducted even when all other variables were taken into account. Specifically, compared to white Europeans, African-Caribbeans were twice as likely to be searched while Arabics and Orientals were half as likely.180 The researchers in the study concluded that the data at least 'raise . . . the spectre of police racism' and reveal that 'policing is unequally experienced,' though it is impossible to determine whether the disproportionate number of strip searches of African-Caribbeans is due to institutional racism or unintentional discrimination.181"

    Ha, Daphne, "Blanket Policies for Strip Searching Pretrial Detainees: An Interdisciplinary Argument for Reasonableness," Fordham Law Review (New York, NY: Fordham University School of Law, May 2011) Vol. 79, No. 6, pp. 2740-2741.

  30. Data Table

    (Blacks and Hispanics Under Control of the US Correctional System) In 2009, there were almost 3.6 million people of color who were on probation or parole or housed in federal, state or local jails. During the 20 years since 1990, the number of minority offenders has grown by about +51.1% and has consistently represented about 50% of those under control of the system, even though they collectively comprise only 30% of the U.S. population (blacks about 12.6% and Hispanics/Latinos 16.3%). Numbering about 1.3 million, blacks and Hispanics/Latinos made up about 60% of those housed in America's prisons and jails in 2009.

    Minorities under control of the U.S. corrections system
    Minority Group 1990 2000 2007 2008 2009 % Chg


    TOTAL persons in system   4,346,941   6,423,708   7,326,734   7,319,419   7,234,209   +63.0%
    Minorities in system   2,351,516   3,309,566   3,622,726   3,607,341   3,611,911   +51.1%
    Minority % of TOTAL 54.1% 51.5% 49.4% 49.3% 49.9% --
    Blacks in system   1,614,195   2,347,066   2,446,834   2,453,170   2,472,920   +49.5%
    Blacks % of TOTAL 37.1% 36.5% 33.4% 33.5% 34.2% --
    Hispanic/Latinos in system   737,321   962,500   1,175,892   1,154,171   1,138,991   +54.8% 
    Hispanics/Latinos % of TOTAL 17.0% 15.0% 16.0% 15.8% 15.7% --
    Percentage of minorities in prison 60.0% 63.4% 60.3% 60.4% 60.5% --

    • All of the above numbers represent estimates, not exact counts. The source reports from the Bureau of Justice Statistics for various years have been periodically revised. The methodologies used to collect these data may also be modified over time, rendering the percent change values approximations.
    • The "system" refers to the U.S criminal justice system, which includes probation, parole and prison. Prisons include facilities run by federal, state and local authorities.
    • The above numbers concerning probation and parole have been computed from the percentages that describe the "characteristics of adults" on probation or parole.
    • The "Percentage of minorities in prison" represents the proportion of black or Hispanic/Latino inmates housed in federal, state and local prisons/jails.

    These above data were referenced from a variety of reports that include:
    Total Correctional Population:
    State and Federal Prisoners:
    State and Federal Prisoners, 1925-2001:
    Community Corrections (Probation and Parole):
    Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics: