Race & Prison

People sentenced to prison, jail, other correctional facilities, or community corrections. Statistics and other data regarding race and the correctional system, including prisons, jails, other correctional facilities, probation, and parole.

Jail Inmate Population in the US by Gender and Race/Ethnicity

City and county jails in the US held 738,400 people at on June 29, 2018. ("Rates are based on the number of inmates held on the last weekday in June.")

Demographics on that date are as follows:
623,400 male, 115,100 female.
Juveniles: 3,700 held as adults, 600 held as juveniles.
Racial demographics were as follows:
White: 368,500
Black: 242,300
Latinx: 109,300
American Indian/Alaska native: 9,700
Asian/native Hawaiian/other Pacific islander: 4,800
"Other," including two or more races: 2,100

Number of People in the US Serving Time in State and Federal Prisons in 2015 by age, sex, race, and Latinx ethnicity

On December 31, 2015, state and federal prisons combined held a total of 1,476,847 people, of whom 499,400 were non-Latinx whites, 523,000 were non-Latinx blacks, 319,400 Latinx, and 135,100 whose race/ethnicity was counted as "other".

Click here for complete datatable of Number of People in the US Serving Time in State and Federal Prisons, by age, sex, race, and Latinx ethnicity, on December 31, 2015

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.

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)."

Impact of the Over-Incarceration of Young Black Males in the US

"The spectacular growth in the American penal system over the last three decades was concentrated in a small segment of the population, among young minority men with very low levels of education. By the early 2000s, prison time was a common life event for this group, and today more than two-thirds of African American male dropouts are expected to serve time in state or federal prison.

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.

People Held in Prisons in 2007, by Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Age

"Of the 2.3 million inmates in custody, 2.1 million were men and 208,300 were women (table 9). Black males represented the largest percentage (35.4%) of inmates held in custody, followed by white males (32.9%) and Hispanic males (17.9%).

"Over a third (33.8%) of the total male custody population was ages 20 to 29 (appendix table 10). The largest percentage of black (35.5%) and Hispanic (39.9%) males held in custody were ages 20 to 29. White males ages 35 to 44 accounted for the largest percentage (30.1%) of the white male custody population.

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