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Statistics of incarcerated African-American males

2009. Percent of adult males incarcerated by race and ethnicity.[1]

Researchers have been analyzing statistics on the incarceration in the United States of African-American males as to age, location, causes, and the impact on children. Approximately 12–13% of the American population is African-American, but they make up 35% of jail inmates, and 37% of prison inmates of the 2.2 million male inmates as of 2014 (U.S. Department of Justice, 2014).[2][3] Census data for 2000 of the number and race of all individuals incarcerated in the United States revealed a wide racial disproportion of the incarcerated population in each state: the proportion of blacks in prison populations exceeded the proportion among state residents in twenty states.

According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), African Americans constitute nearly 2.3 million of the total 6.8 million incarcerated population, and have nearly six times the incarceration rate of whites.[4] A 2013 study confirmed that black men were much more likely to be arrested and incarcerated than white men and that this disparity disappeared after accounting for self-reported violence and IQ.[5]



The statistics show that one in nine African-American males between the ages of 20 to 34 are in prison.[6][7] The rate of imprisonment in some portions of the United States is particularly high, with Oklahoma holding the highest overall black incarceration rate and the Sentencing Project noting that "In eleven states, at least 1 in 20 adult black males is in prison."[6] In 2014 the U.S. Department of Justice found that the majority of male prisoners aged 30 to 39 were black (6%), a marked increase in comparison to Hispanics (2%) and Caucasians (1%) in the same age range.[8] Maryland has a prison population that’s 72 percent black.[9]

Incarceration by race and ethnicityEdit

2010. Inmates in adult facilities, by race and ethnicity. Jails, and state and federal prisons.[10]
Race, ethnicity % of US population % of U.S.
incarcerated population
National incarceration rate
(per 100,000 of all ages)
White (non-Hispanic) 64 39 450 per 100,000
Hispanic 16 19 831 per 100,000
Black 13 40 2,306 per 100,000

Prison vs. collegeEdit

Several studies have concluded that overall, more black males are in prison than are enrolled in colleges and universities. In 2000 there were 791,600 black men of all ages in prison and 603,032 enrolled in college (a dramatic change since 1980, when there were 143,000 black men of all ages in prison and 463,700 enrolled in college.) In 2003, according to Justice Department figures, 193,000 black college-age men were in prison, while 532,000 black college-age men were attending college. On an average day in 1996, more black male high school dropouts aged 20–35 were in custody than in paid employment; by 1999, over one-fifth of black non-college men in their early 30’s had prison records.[11]

Other studies contradict this, see NPR Are There Really More Black Men In Prison Than College?.

According to Antonio Moore in his Huffington Post article, "there are more African American men incarcerated in the U.S. than the total prison populations in India, Argentina, Canada, Lebanon, Japan, Germany, Finland, Israel and England combined." There are only 19 million African American males in the United States, collectively these countries represent over 1.6 billion people.[12]

Leading causes of incarceration for African American malesEdit

In 2015, of African American males currently serving sentences in a federal correctional facility, 10.4% were sentenced for a violent crime, 48.5% for a drug offense, and 6.4% for a property crime. Among African American males serving sentences longer than a year in state institutions, 47% were sentenced for a violent crime, 15% for a non-violent and 16% for a property crime.[13][14]. One of the main reasons for a disproportionate amount of African American males in prison has to do with the war on drugs which was a result of a tough on crime approach created by policymakers in the 1980s. The growth in the U.S. prison population is attributable to “tough on crime” policies and legislation, mainly the passage of strict drug laws at the federal and state levels.[15] As a result, thousands of African Americans have been imprisoned and served longer sentences.[16] Low income urban neighborhoods that are predominately black or latino are heavily policed and they are searched by the police.[17] "The drivers of racial disparities include biased decision making in the criminal justice system, poverty, education outcomes, unemployment history, and criminal history."[18] In addition, racial biases may affect judges' decisions in the criminal justice system when judging African Americans.[19]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Prison Inmates at Midyear 2009 - Statistical Tables (NCJ 230113). U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. The rates are for adult males, and are from Tables 18 and 19 of the PDF file. Rates per 100,000 were converted to percentages.
  2. ^ "Jail Inmates at Midyear 2014" (PDF). 
  3. ^ "Prisoners in 2014" (PDF). 
  4. ^ "Criminal Justice Fact Sheet". National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP. Retrieved 2014-04-08. 
  5. ^ Beaver, Kevin M.; DeLisi, Matt; Wright, John Paul; Boutwell, Brian B.; Barnes, J.C.; Vaughn, Michael G. (July 2013). "No evidence of racial discrimination in criminal justice processing: Results from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health". Personality and Individual Differences. 55 (1): 29–34. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2013.01.020. 
  6. ^ a b "The Color of Justice: Racial and Ethnic Disparity in State Prisons | The Sentencing Project". The Sentencing Project. Retrieved 2017-05-15. 
  7. ^ Liptak, Adam (2008-02-29). "More than 1 in 100 U.S. adults are in prison". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-18. 
  8. ^ Carson, E. Ann (2015). "Prisoners in 2014" (PDF). Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved May 18, 2017. 
  9. ^ "There is a stunning gap between the number of white and black inmates in America's prisons". Business Insider. Retrieved 2017-05-16. 
  10. ^ Breaking Down Mass Incarceration in the 2010 Census: State-by-State Incarceration Rates by Race/Ethnicity. Briefing by Leah Sakala. May 28, 2014. Prison Policy Initiative. Figures calculated with US Census 2010 SF-1 table P42 and the PCT20 table series.
  11. ^ Western, Bruce (August 2002). "The Impact of Incarceration on Wage Mobility and Inequality" (PDF). 
  12. ^ Antonio Moore (February 23, 2015). The Black Male Incarceration Problem Is Real and It's Catastrophic. The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
  13. ^
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ Wexler, Harry K.; Lurigio, Arthur J.; Rodriguez, Pamela F. (19 August 2011). "Reforming the Criminal Justice System in the United States". The Prison Journal. 91 (3_suppl): 1S–11S. doi:10.1177/0032885511415205. 
  16. ^ Project, Jeremy Haile, The Sentencing. "America's Disappeared Black Men". Retrieved 2017-05-15. 
  17. ^ Project, Jeremy Haile, The Sentencing. "America's Disappeared Black Men". Retrieved 2017-05-15. 
  18. ^ "The Color of Justice: Racial and Ethnic Disparity in State Prisons | The Sentencing Project". The Sentencing Project. Retrieved 2017-05-16. 
  19. ^ "There is a stunning gap between the number of white and black inmates in America's prisons". Business Insider. Retrieved 2017-05-16.