Wall Street Journal Perpetuates Myths About Race & Crime

Jason Riley, writing at the Wall Street Journal on August 8, 2017 (“Legalizing Pot Is a Bad Way to Promote Racial Equality” ) "blacks commit violent crimes at seven to 10 times the rate whites do." That assertion is simply false. There is no good evidence that any racial or ethnic group is more inclined to violence or criminal activity than another, it's an assumption that's racist and wrong.

Number of People in the US Serving Time in State and Federal Prisons, by age, sex, race, and Latinx ethnicity

On December 31, 2015, state and federal prisons combined held a total of 1,476,847 people, of whom 499,400 were non-Latinx whites, 523,000 were non-Latinx blacks, 319,400 Latinx, and 135,100 whose race/ethnicity was counted as "other".

Click here for complete datatable of Number of People in the US Serving Time in State and Federal Prisons, by age, sex, race, and Latinx ethnicity, on December 31, 2015

Number of People In The US Serving Time In State Prison For Drug Offenses, by Race

An illegal drug conviction was the most serious offense for 206,300 out of the 1,316,409 people in the US sentenced to state prison facilities at the end of 2014. That represents 15.7% of all sentenced prisoners under state jurisdiction. Of this total: 67,800 (32.9%) were non-Latinx white, 68,000 (33.0%) were non-Latinx African American, and 28,800 (7.2%) were Latinx. No race/ethnicity was reported for the remaining 41,700 people (20.2%) serving time in state prison for a drug offense.

Number of Adults Under Correctional Supervision in the US

"The decline in the U.S. correctional population from January 1, 2016 (6,676,200 persons), to December 31, 2016 (6,613,500), continued a downward trend that began in 2008 (table 1). Persons supervised in the community on either probation (3,673,100 persons) or parole (874,800) continued to account for the majority of the U.S. correctional population at year-end 2016. Nearly 7 in 10 persons under correctional supervision were supervised in the community (4,537,100) on December 31, 2016, and 3 in 10 (2,162,400) were incarcerated in state or federal prisons or local jails.1

Substance Use Treatment in State and Federal Prisons

"The percentage of recent drug users in State prison who reported participation in a variety of drug abuse programs rose from 34% in 1997 to 39% in 2004 (table 9). This increase was the result of the growing percentage of recent drug users who reported taking part in self-help groups, peer counseling and drug abuse education programs (up from 28% to 34%). Over the same period, the percentage of recent drug users taking part in drug treatment programs with a trained professional was almost unchanged (15% in 1997, 14% in 2004).

Imprisonment Rates In The US By Age And Gender

"There were 440 prisoners sentenced to more than one year in state or federal prison per 100,000 U.S. residents on December 31, 2017, the lowest rate since 1997 (444 per 100,000) (table 5; see figure 1). Among U.S. residents age 18 or older, 568 in 100,000 were imprisoned on a sentence of more than one year at year-end 2017. At that time, 1.1% of adult males living in the United States (1,082 in 100,000) were serving a sentence of more than one year, representing a 2% decrease from year-end 2016 (1,108 in 100,000).