Incarceration rate gap between white and black men grows
There is a growing divide between the incarceration rates of black and white men in the United States, according to “The Black-White Gap in Incarceration Rates”, a 2014 report published by the Pew Research Center.
The incarceration rate of less educated black men in the United States has grown from ten percent in 1980, to almost 30 percent in 2010, according to the 2014 Pew Research Center report.
In total, black men are six times more likely to be incarcerated than white men in federal, state and local jails, reports “King’s Dream Remains an Elusive Goal”, a 2013 Pew Research Center survey.
The United States is currently the world’s leader in incarceration with over 2.2 million people behind bars, according to The Sentencing Project a non-profit prison advocacy group. The number of incarcerated Americans has grown by nearly five hundred percent in the last thirty years, the report says.
With a record number of people behind bars, prisons have become overcrowded and pushed to their limits. Jeremy Haile, of The Huffington Post, writes in an Sept. 2014 column, “With a Record Number of People Behind Bars, Here’s Something that Congress Can Do” that some federal prisons are operating at 50 percent over capacity.
The cost of incarceration to taxpayers is high.
The Ohio Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reported that, in 2013, the average inmate cost taxpayers $22,836 per year. The stay for inmates in Ohio prisons is approximately 2.03 year, according to the ODCR.
Many of the current incarcerated population are behind bars for drug offences. The Bureau of Prisons reports that 48.4 percent of federal prisoners are serving sentences for drug offenses, compared to 15.8 percent who are serving sentences for weapons and explosives charges.
Haile blames this mismatch on the mandatory minimum sentences for many drug-related offenses.
This divide does not fall equally on racial lines. Nearly four out of five people charged with cocaine or marijuana offenses in 2012 were black or Hispanic, according to the US Sentencing Commission’s 2012 Annual Report.