Race & Prison

People sentenced to prison, jail, other correctional facilities, or community corrections. Statistics and other data regarding race and the correctional system, including prisons, jails, other correctional facilities, probation, and parole.

US Imprisonment Rates by Race

"Between year-end 2015 and year-end 2016, the rate of imprisonment for black adults decreased 4% (from 1,670 per 100,000 in 2015 to 1,608 per 100,000 in 2016) (figure 2). The imprisonment rate declined 29% since 2006 (2,261 per 100,000). The rate for white adults decreased 2% between 2015 (281 per 100,000) and 2016 (274 per 100,000), and it declined 15% during the past decade (324 per 100,000 in 2006). The imprisonment rate for Hispanic adults decreased 1%, from 862 per 100,000 in 2015 to 856 in 2016.

Adults on Community Correctional Supervision in the US in 2015, by Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Most Serious Offense

(Adults on Community Correctional Supervision in the US in 2015, by Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Most Serious Offense) According to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics:
Of the 3,789,800 adults in the US on probation as of 12/31/2015:
• 75% were male and 25% were female.
• 55% were non-Latinx Whites, 30% were non-Latinx African-American, 13% were Latinx, 1% were American Indian/Alaska Native, and 1% were Asian/Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander. The number of multi-racial/other was too low to be reported.

Problems of Systemic Racial Biases Within Drug Courts

(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.

Strip Searches of Arrestees, England

(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

Odds of Arrest and Incarceration for Marijuana Offenses in California

(Odds of Arrest and Incarceration for Marijuana Offenses in California) "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."

Racism and the War on Drugs

(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.

Racial and Gender Disparities

(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."

Children with Parents Behind Bars

(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."

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