Race & Prisons

1. Imprisonment Rates In the US By Gender and Race

"There were 431 prisoners sentenced to more than one year in state or federal prison per 100,000 U.S. residents at year-end 2018, a decrease from 441 per 100,000 at year-end 2017 (table 5). The state imprisonment rate was 381 sentenced prisoners per 100,000 U.S. residents of all ages, and the federal rate was 50 per 100,000.

"Among U.S. residents age 18 or older, there were 555 prisoners sentenced to more than one year in state or federal prison per 100,000 adult U.S. residents as of December 31, 2018 (table 6). More than 1% of adult males living in the U.S. were serving a prison sentence of more than one year (1,055 per 100,000), representing a decrease of 2.7% from year-end 2017 (1,084 per 100,000). At year-end 2018, the imprisonment rate for adult females was 80 per 100,000 female U.S. residents age 18 or older.

"From 2017 to 2018, the imprisonment rate for Hispanic adults declined 3.7%, from 823 per 100,000 Hispanic U.S. residents age 18 or older in 2017 to 792 per 100,000 in 2018. The imprisonment rate for black adults declined 3.2%, from 1,549 per 100,000 black adult residents at year-end 2017 to 1,500 per
100,000 at year-end 2018. Meanwhile, the imprisonment rate for white adults decreased 1.4%, from 272 per 100,000 white adult residents in 2017 to 268 per 100,000 in 2018.

"From year-end 2008 to year-end 2018, the imprisonment rate declined 15.2% for white adults (from 316 to 268 per 100,000) and 31.7% for black adults (from 2,196 to 1,501 per 100,000). Te number of sentenced Hispanic prisoners remained relatively steady between 2008 and 2018, while the number of Hispanic adult residents increased 33%. As a result, the imprisonment rate for Hispanics declined 25.1% over the decade."

E. Ann Carson, PhD. Prisoners In 2018. Washington, DC: US Dept of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, April 2020, NCJ253516.
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2. State and Federal Prison Populations in the US by Race, Gender, and Latinx Ethnicity

"Demographic characteristics among sentenced prisoners

"• At year-end 2018, an estimated 6% of sentenced white males in state and federal prisons were ages 18 to 24, compared to 12% of black and 10% of Hispanic male prisoners (table 9).

"• Three percent of male prisoners and 1.5% of female prisoners sentenced to more than one year in state or federal prison were age 65 or older at year-end 2018.

"• Seventeen percent of white males sentenced to more than one year in prison were age 55 or older as of year-end 2018, compared to 11% of black and 9% of Hispanic male prisoners.

"• The age group most likely to be imprisoned is those in their 30s (over 1,000 men or women imprisoned per 100,000 U.S. residents).

"• Together, state and federal correctional authorities held more than 1% of all male U.S. residents ages 20 to 54 (more than 1,000 per 100,000 residents) at year-end 2018 (table 10).

"• In 2018, the imprisonment rate of black residents (1,134 sentenced black prisoners per 100,000 black residents) was the lowest since 1989 (1,050 per 100,000).

"• The imprisonment rate for black females (88 per 100,000 black female residents) was 1.8 times as high as for white females (49 per 100,000 white female residents), while the imprisonment rate for black males (2,272 per 100,000 black male residents) was 5.8 times as high as for white males (392 per 100,000 white male residents).

"• Black males ages 18 to 19 were 12.7 times as likely to be imprisoned as white males of the same ages (figure 2), the highest black-to-white racial disparity of any age group in 2018.

"• Hispanic males ages 18 to 19 were 3.3 times as likely as white males of the same ages to be imprisoned at year-end 2018.

"• In 2018, the disparities in imprisonment rates between sentenced black and white females and between sentenced Hispanic and white females were lowest for those ages 25 to 49 (figure 3)."

E. Ann Carson, PhD. Prisoners In 2018. Washington, DC: US Dept of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, April 2020, NCJ253516.
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3. US Imprisonment Rates by Race

"There were 431 prisoners sentenced to more than one year in state or federal prison per 100,000 U.S. residents at year-end 2018, a decrease from 441 per 100,000 at year-end 2017 (table 5). Te state imprisonment rate was 381 sentenced prisoners per 100,000 U.S. residents of all ages, and the federal rate was 50 per 100,000.

"Among U.S. residents age 18 or older, there were 555 prisoners sentenced to more than one year in state or federal prison per 100,000 adult U.S. residents as of December 31, 2018 (table 6). More than 1% of adult males living in the U.S. were serving a prison sentence of more than one year (1,055 per 100,000), representing a decrease of 2.7% from year-end 2017 (1,084 per 100,000). At year-end 2018, the imprisonment rate for adult females was 80 per 100,000 female U.S. residents age 18 or older.

"From 2017 to 2018, the imprisonment rate for Hispanic adults declined 3.7%, from 823 per 100,000 Hispanic U.S. residents age 18 or older in 2017 to 792 per 100,000 in 2018. The imprisonment rate for black adults declined 3.2%, from 1,549 per 100,000 black adult residents at year-end 2017 to 1,500 per 100,000 at year-end 2018. Meanwhile, the imprisonment rate for white adults decreased 1.4%, from 272 per 100,000 white adult residents in 2017 to 268 per 100,000 in 2018.

"From year-end 2008 to year-end 2018, the imprisonment rate declined 15.2% for white adults (from 316 to 268 per 100,000) and 31.7% for black adults (from 2,196 to 1,501 per 100,000). Te number of sentenced Hispanic prisoners remained relatively steady between 2008 and 2018, while the number of Hispanic adult residents increased 33%. As a result, the imprisonment rate for Hispanics declined 25.1% over the decade."

E. Ann Carson, PhD. Prisoners In 2018. Washington, DC: US Dept of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, April 2020, NCJ253516.
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4. Jail Inmate Population in the US by Gender and Race/Ethnicity at Yearend 2016

There were 704,500 people confined in local jails in the US on December 31, 2016, of whom 602,200 were male and 102,300 were female. Juveniles held as adults numbered 3,000, plus an additional 700 juveniles who were held as juveniles. Racial demographics were as follows: white, 338,700; black/African-American, 242,200; Latinx, 107,200; American Indian/Alaska native: 8,600; Asian/native Hawaiian/other Pacific islander: 5,600; two or more races: 2,100. Only 245,900 people confined to a local jail had been convicted of any crimes and had either already been sentenced or were awaiting sentencing. The remaining 458,600 people confined to local jails were unconvicted and awaiting court action on a current charge.

"Non-Hispanic blacks (599 per 100,000 black U.S. residents) had the highest jail incarceration rate at year-end 2016, followed by American Indian or Alaska Natives (359 per 100,000 AIAN residents). Non-Hispanic whites (171 per 100,000 white residents) and Hispanics (185 per 100,000 Hispanic residents) were incarcerated at a similar rate at year-end 2016. Among non-Hispanics in 2016, blacks were incarcerated in jail at a rate 3.5 times that of whites, down from 5.6 times the rate in 2000.

"At year-end 2016, an estimated 85% of the jail population were male (table 3). Juveniles (those age 17 or younger) made up of 0.5% of the inmates held in local jails, down from 1.2% in 2000.

"White non-Hispanic inmates accounted for 48% of the jail population in 2016, up from 42% in 2000. In comparison, the percentage of black non-Hispanic inmates declined from 41% in 2000 to 34% in 2016. Hispanics represented 15% of the jail population in both 2000 and 2016. American Indian or Alaska Native inmates and Asian, Native Hawaiian, or Other Pacific Islander inmates each represented about 1% of the jail population."

Zhen Zeng, PhD, "Jail Inmates in 2016," Bureau of Justice Statistics (Washington, DC: Department of Justice, Feb. 2018), NCJ251210, pp. 3-4 and p. 8, Appendix Table 1.
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5. African American Males in Prison in the US

"On December 31, 2014, black males had higher imprisonment rates than prisoners of other races or Hispanic origin within every age group. Imprisonment rates for black males were 3.8 to 10.5 times greater at each age group than white males and 1.4 to 3.1 times greater than rates for Hispanic males. The largest disparity between white and black male prisoners occurred among inmates ages 18 to 19. Black males (1,072 prisoners per 100,000 black male residents ages 18 to 19) were more than 10 times more likely to be in state or federal prison than whites (102 per 100,000)."

Carson, E. Ann. Prisoners In 2014. Washington, DC: US Dept of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sept. 2015, NCJ248955, p. 15.
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6. 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.
(Note: The Bureau of Justice Statistics annual report on prisoners does not provide separate counts for inmates who identify as two or more races, nor of American Indians, Alaska Natives, Asians, Native Hawaiians, or other Pacific Islanders.)

E. Ann Carson, PhD, and Elizabeth Anderson. Prisoners In 2015. Washington, DC: US Dept of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Dec. 2016, NCJ250229, p. 30, Appendix Table 5.
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7. Adults on Community Correctional Supervision in the US in 2015, by Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Most Serious Offense

According to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics:
Of the 3,789,800 adults in the US on probation as of 12/31/2015:
• 75% were male and 25% were female.
• 55% were non-Latinx Whites, 30% were non-Latinx African-American, 13% were Latinx, 1% were American Indian/Alaska Native, and 1% were Asian/Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander. The number of multi-racial/other was too low to be reported.
• Drug offenses were the most serious offenses for 25% of all probationers in 2015.

Of the 870,500 adults in the US on parole as of 12/31/2015:
• 87% were male and 13% were female.
• 44% were non-Latinx Whites, 38% were non-Latinx Blacks, 16% were Latinx, 1% were American Indian/Alaska Native, and 1% were Asian/Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander. The number of multi-racial/other was too low to be reported.
• Drug offenses were the most serious offense for 31% of all parolees in 2015.

Danielle Kaeble and Thomas P. Bonczar, "Probation and Parole in the United States, 2015" (Washington, DC: US Dept of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Dec. 2016), NCJ250230, Table 1, p. 3, Table 4, p. 5, and Table 6, p. 7.
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8. Estimated Number of Young Adults in the US With a Parent Who Has Ever Spent Time in Jail or Prison

"The prevalence of any PI [Parental Incarceration] was 12.5% with the 95% confidence interval (CI) of 11.3% to 13.8%. The distribution of incarceration status by category was: neither parent (87.5%, 95% CI: 86.2%–88.7%), father only (9.9%, 95% CI: 8.9%–10.9%), mother only (1.7%, 95% CI: 1.4%–2.0%), and both parents (0.9%, 95% CI: 0.7%–1.2%). A significant association was found between race and PI. Black and Hispanic individuals had the highest prevalence of PI, 20.6% and 14.8%, compared with 11.9% for white individuals and 11.6% for those classified as other. Pairwise comparison indicated the black and white prevalence rates were significantly different."

Note: Regarding study sample size: "The current study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), a 4-wave longitudinal study following a nationally representative probability sample of adolescents in grades 7 through 12 in the 1994–1995 school year.46 The first 3 waves of Add Health data were collected from April to December 1995, from April to August 1996, and from August 2001 to April 2002. The fourth wave of data was collected in 2007 and 2008. The full sample for Wave 4 included 15 701 or 80.3% of the eligible participants from Wave 1. The response rates for Waves 1, 2, 3, and 4 were 79.0%, 88.6%, 77.4%, and 80.3%, respectively. The mean ages of participants during the 4 waves of data collection were 15.7 years, 16.2 years, 22.0 years, and 28.8 years, respectively.

"The current study was based on 14,800 participants who were interviewed during Wave 1 and Wave 4 and have a sampling weight. Of the 15,701 participants who participated in both Wave 1 and Wave 4 interviews, 14,800 participants have a sampling weight at Wave 4 interview that could be used to compute population estimates. For data analysis, data describing participants’ sociodemographic characteristics from Wave 1 of the Add Health study were combined with Wave 4 self-reported health outcomes and PI history."

Rosalyn D. Lee, Xiangming Fang and Feijun Luo, "The Impact of Parental Incarceration on the Physical and Mental Health of Young Adults." Pediatrics 2013;131;e1188; originally published online March 18, 2013; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-0627.
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9. Offense Distribution of People Serving Time In State Prisons in the US, by Race/Ethnicity and Gender

"• More than half (54% or 707,900 prisoners) of all state prisoners sentenced to more than 1 year at year-end 2015 (the most recent year for which state prison offense data are available) were serving sentences for violent offenses on their current term of imprisonment (table 12; table 13).

"• At year-end 2015, an estimated 14% of sentenced prisoners (177,600 prisoners) were serving time in state prison for murder or nonnegligent manslaughter, and an additional 12% of state prisoners (161,900) had been sentenced for rape or sexual assault.

"• Among sentenced prisoners under the jurisdiction of state correctional authorities on December 31, 2015, 15% (197,200 prisoners) had been convicted of a drug offense as their most serious crime.

"• At year-end 2015, 60% of all Hispanic prisoners sentenced to more than 1 year in state prison were sentenced for a violent offense, compared to 59% of black and 47% of white prisoners.

"• A quarter (25%) of females serving time in state prison on December 31, 2015, had been convicted of a drug offense, compared to 14% of males."

E. Ann Carson, PhD. Prisoners In 2016. Washington, DC: US Dept of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, January 2018, NCJ251149, p. 13.
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10. Children with Parents Behind Bars

"Among white children in 1980, only 0.4 of 1 percent had an incarcerated parent; by 2008 this figure had increased to 1.75 percent. Rates of parental incarceration are roughly double among Latino children, with 3.5 percent of children having a parent locked up by 2008. Among African American children, 1.2 million, or about 11 percent, had a parent incarcerated by 2008."

Western , Bruce; Pettit, Becky, "Incarceration & social inequality," Dædalus (Cambridge, MA: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Summer 2010), p. 16.
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11. Parents Behind Bars

"The growth of incarceration in America has intergenerational impacts that policy makers will have to confront. According to this analysis, more than 1.2 million inmates — over half of the 2.3 million people behind bars — are parents of children under age 18. This includes more than 120,000 mothers and more than 1.1 million fathers. The racial concentration that characterizes incarceration rates also extends to incarcerated parents. Nearly half a million black fathers, for example, are behind bars, a number that represents 40 percent of all incarcerated parents.
"The most alarming news lurking within these figures is that there are now 2.7 million minor children (under age 18) with a parent behind bars. (See Figure 9.) Put more starkly, 1 in every 28 children in the United States — more than 3.6 percent — now has a parent in jail or prison. Just 25 years ago, the figure was only 1 in 125.
"For black children, incarceration is an especially common family circumstance. More than 1 in 9 black children has a parent in prison or jail, a rate that has more than quadrupled in the past 25 years. (See Figure 10.)
"Because far more men than women are behind bars, most children with an incarcerated parent are missing their father.37 For example, more than 10 percent of African American children have an incarcerated father, and 1 percent have an incarcerated mother."

The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2010. Collateral Costs: Incarceration’s Effect on Economic Mobility. Washington, DC: The Pew Charitable Trusts, p. 18.
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12. Parents in Prison

"Similar to men in the general prison population (93%), parents held in the nation's prisons at midyear 2007 were mostly male (92%) (not shown in table). More than 4 in 10 fathers were black, about 3 in 10 were white, and about 2 in 10 were Hispanic (appendix table 2). An estimated 1,559,200 children had a father in prison at midyear 2007; nearly half (46%) were children of black fathers.

"Almost half (48%) of all mothers held in the nation's prisons at midyear 2007 were white, 28% were black, and 17% were Hispanic. Of the estimated 147,400 children with a mother in prison, about 45% had a white mother. A smaller percentage of the children had a black (30%) or Hispanic (19%) mother."

Glaze, Lauren E. and Maruschak, Laura M., "Parents in Prison and Their Minor Children" (Washington, DC: USDOJ, Bureau of Justice Statistics, August 2008, Revised March 30, 2010), NCJ222984, p. 2.
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13. Incarceration of People of Color

"Mass arrests and incarceration of people of color – largely due to drug law violations46 – have hobbled families and communities by stigmatizing and removing substantial numbers of men and women. In the late 1990s, nearly one in three African-American men aged 20-29 were under criminal justice supervision, 47 while more than two out of five had been incarcerated – substantially more than had been incarcerated a decade earlier and orders of magnitudes higher than that for the general population.48 Today, 1 in 15 African-American children and 1 in 42 Latino children have a parent in prison, compared to 1 in 111 white children.49 In some areas, a large majority of African-American men – 55 percent in Chicago, for example50 – are labeled felons for life, and, as a result, may be prevented from voting and accessing public housing, student loans and other public assistance."

"Drug Courts Are Not the Answer: Toward a Health-Centered Approach to Drug Use" Drug Policy Alliance (New York, NY: March 2011), p. 9.
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14. Odds of Arrest and Incarceration for Marijuana Offenses in California

"Compared to Non-blacks, California’s African-American population are 4 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana, 12 times more likely to be imprisoned for a marijuana felony arrest, and 3 times more likely to be imprisoned per marijuana possession arrest. Overall, as Figure 3 illustrates, these disparities accumulate to 10 times’ greater odds of an African-American being imprisoned for marijuana than other racial/ethnic groups."

Males, Mike, "Misdemeanor marijuana arrests are skyrocketing and other California marijuana enforcement disparities," Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (San Francisco, CA: November 2011), p. 6.
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15. Female Incarceration Rates in the US in 2010 by Race/Ethnicity

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, at midyear 2010, the incarceration rate for women was 126 per 100,000 population. The rate for non-Hispanic white females was 91, for non-Hispanic black females the rate was 260, and for Hispanic women the rate was 133.

Glaze, Lauren E., "Correctional Population in the United States, 2010," Bureau of Justice Statistics (Washington, DC: Department of Justice, December 2011), NCJ 236319, Appendix Table 3, p. 8.
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16. Problems of Systemic Racial Biases Within Drug Courts

"Importantly, representation of African-Americans in jails and prisons was nearly twice that of both Drug Courts and probation, and was also substantially higher among all arrestees for drug-related offenses. On one hand, these discrepancies might be explained by relevant differences in the populations. For example, minority arrestees might be more likely to have the types of prior convictions that could exclude them from eligibility for Drug Courts or probation. On the other hand, systemic differences in plea-bargaining, charging or sentencing practices might be having the practical effect of denying Drug Court and other community-based dispositions to otherwise needy and eligible minority citizens. Further research is needed to determine whether racial or ethnic minority citizens are being denied the opportunity for Drug Court for reasons that may be unrelated to their legitimate clinical needs or legal eligibility."

West Huddleston and Douglas B. Marlowe, "Painting the Current Picture: A National Report on Drug Courts and Other Problem Solving Court Programs in the United States" (Alexandria, VA: National Drug Court Institute, July 2011), NCJ 235776, p. 29.
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17. Racism and the War on Drugs

"The main obstacle to getting black America past the illusion that racism is still a defining factor in America is the strained relationship between young black men and police forces. The massive number of black men in prison stands as an ongoing and graphically resonant rebuke to all calls to 'get past racism,' exhibit initiative, or stress optimism. And the primary reason for this massive number of black men in jail is the War on Drugs. Therefore, if the War on Drugs were terminated, the main factor keeping race-based resentment a core element in the American social fabric would no longer exist. America would be a better place for all."

McWhorter, John, "How the War on Drugs Is Destroying Black America," Cato's Letter (Washington, DC: The Cato Institute, Winter 2011), p. 1.
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18. Incarceration Rates by Race and Gender in the US in 2007

"Changes in the incarceration rates for men and women by race were associated with changes to the overall composition of the custody population at midyear 2007. Black men had an incarceration rate of 4,618 per 100,000 U.S. residents at midyear 2007, down from 4,777 at midyear 2000. For white men, the midyear 2007 incarceration rate was 773 per 100,000 U.S. residents, up from 683 at midyear 2000. The ratio of the incarceration rates of black men to white men declined from 7 to 6 during this period.

"Changes in the incarceration rates for women were more distinct. At midyear 2000, black women were incarcerated at a rate 6 times that of white women (or 380 per 100,000 U.S. residents versus 63 per 100,000 U.S. residents). By June 30, 2007, the incarceration rate for black women declined to 3.7 times that of white women (or 348 versus 95). An 8.4% decline in the incarceration rate for black women and a 51% increase in the rate for white women accounted for the overall decrease in the incarceration rate of black women relative to white women at midyear 2007."

Sabol, William J., PhD, and Couture, Heather, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prison Inmates at Midyear 2007 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, June 2008), NCJ221944, p. 8.
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19. Racial Disparities in Enforcement and Incarceration

"The racial disparities in the rates of drug arrests culminate in dramatic racial disproportions among incarcerated drug offenders. At least two-thirds of drug arrests result in a criminal conviction.18 Many convicted drug offenders are sentenced to incarceration: an estimated 67 percent of convicted felony drug defendants are sentenced to jail or prison.19 The likelihood of incarceration increases if the defendant has a prior conviction.20 Since blacks are more likely to be arrested than whites on drug charges, they are more likely to acquire the convictions that ultimately lead to higher rates of incarceration. Although the data in this backgrounder indicate that blacks represent about one-third of drug arrests, they constitute 46 percent of persons convicted of drug felonies in state courts.21 Among black defendants convicted of drug offenses, 71 percent received sentences to incarceration in contrast to 63 percent of convicted white drug offenders.22 Human Rights Watch’s analysis of prison admission data for 2003 revealed that relative to population, blacks are 10.1 times more likely than whites to be sent to prison for drug offenses.23"

Fellner, Jamie, "Decades of Disparity: Drug Arrests and Race in the United States," Human Rights Watch (New York, NY: March 2009), p. 16.
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20. Male Incarceration Rate In The US 2007, By Race/Ethnicity

"The custody incarceration rate for black males was 4,618 per 100,000. Hispanic males were incarcerated at a rate of 1,747 per 100,000. Compared to the estimated numbers of black, white, and Hispanic males in the U.S. resident population, black males (6 times) and Hispanic males (a little more than 2 times) were more likely to be held in custody than white males. At midyear 2007 the estimated incarceration rate of white males was 773 per 100,000.

"Across all age categories, black males were incarcerated at higher rates than white or Hispanic males. Black males ages 30 to 34 had the highest custody incarceration rate of any race, age, or gender group at midyear 2007."

Sabol, William J., PhD, and Couture, Heather, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prison Inmates at Midyear 2007 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, June 2008), NCJ221944, p. 7.
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