Horrifying, But True Statistics

One out of every three young black men in America today is in prison, in jail, on probation, or on parole, a statistic so overwhelming it defies rational explanation. In his powerful new book, Race to Incarcerate, Marc Mauer, of the Sentencing Project reveals that in 1995, according to the federal government’s own studies, African-Americans made up 13 percent of the population and 15 percent of all drug users, yet they comprised 33 percent of people arrested, 55 percent of those convicted, and 74 percent of those sentenced to prison for drug possession.

When total incarceration rates are estimated separately by age group, black males in their twenties and thirties are found to have high rates relative to other groups. Among the more than 2.1 million offenders incarcerated on June 30, 2004, an estimated 576,600 WERE BLACK MALES BETWEEN AGES 20 AND 39.

Among males age 25 to 29, 12.6% of blacks were in prison or jail, compared to 3.6% of Hispanics and about 1.7% of whites.