Incarceration is not an equal opportunity punishment
On December 31, 2005, there were 2,193,798 people in U.S. prisons and jails. The United States incarcerates a greater share of its population, 737 per 100,000 residents, than any other country on the planet. But when you break down the statistics you see that incarceration is not an equal opportunity punishment.
U.S. incarceration rates by race, June 30, 2006:
- Whites: 409 per 100,000
- Latinos: 1,038 per 100,000
- Blacks: 2,468 per 100,000
Gender is an important "filter" on the who goes to prison or jail, June 30, 2006:
- Females: 134 per 100,000
- Males: 1,384 per 100,000
Look at just the males by race, and the incarceration rates become even more frightening, June 30, 2006:
- White males: 736 per 100,000
- Latino males: 1,862 per 100,000
- Black males: 4,789 per 100,000
If you look at males aged 25-29 and by race, you can see what is going on even clearer, June 30, 2006:
- For White males ages 25-29: 1,685 per 100,000.
- For Latino males ages 25-29: 3,912 per 100,000.
- For Black males ages 25-29: 11,695 per 100,000. (That's 11.7% of Black men in their late 20s.)
Or you can make some international comparisons:
South Africa under Apartheid was internationally condemned as a racist society.
- South Africa under apartheid (1993), Black males: 851 per 100,000
- U.S. under George Bush (2006), Black males: 4,789 per 100,000
What does it mean that the leader of the "free world" locks up its Black males at a rate 5.8 times higher than the most openly racist country in the world?
Statistics as of June 30, 2006 from Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2006, Table 14. The "rates by race" statistics are calculated from the component parts of Table 14. South Africa figures from Marc Mauer, Americans Behind Bars: The International Use of Incarceration. All references to Blacks and Whites are for what the Bureau of Justice Statistics and U.S. Census refer to as "non-Hispanic Blacks" and "non-Hispanic Whites".)