Incarceration Trends in America
Between 1980 and 2015, the number of people incarcerated in America increased from roughly 500,000 to over 2.2 million.
Today, the United States makes up about 5% of the world’s population and has 21% of the world’s prisoners.
1 in every 37 adults in the United States, or 2.7% of the adult population, is under some form of correctional supervision.
Racial Disparities in Incarceration
In 2014, African Americans constituted 2.3 million, or 34%, of the total 6.8 million correctional population.
- African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites.
- The imprisonment rate for African American women is twice that of white women.
- Nationwide, African American children represent 32% of children who are arrested,
42% of children who are detained, and 52% of children whose cases are judicially
waived to criminal court.
- Though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately 32% of the US
population, they comprised 56% of all incarcerated people in 2015.
If African Americans and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rates as whites,
prison and jail populations would decline by almost 40%.
Drug Sentencing Disparities
- In the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 17 million whites and 4 million African Americans reported having used an illicit drug within the last month.
- African Americans and whites use drugs at similar rates, but the imprisonment rate of African Americans for drug charges is almost 6 times that of whites.
- African Americans represent 12.5% of illicit drug users, but 29% of those arrested for drug offenses and 33% of those incarcerated in state facilities for drug offenses.
Effects of Incarceration
- A criminal record can reduce the likelihood of a callback or job offer by nearly 50 percent. The negative impact of a criminal record is twice as large for African American applicants.
- Infectious diseases are highly concentrated in corrections facilities: 15% of jail inmates and 22% of prisoners – compared to 5% of the general population – reported ever having tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and C, HIV/AIDS, or other STDs.
- In 2012 alone, the United States spent nearly $81 billion on corrections.
- Spending on prisons and jails has increased at triple the rate of spending on Pre‐K‐12 public education in the last thirty years.