States and Black Incarceration in America
Mother Jones magazine did an exhaustive analysis of the incarceration rates in the USA, and their statistics, taken from various federal and international sources, show a frightening picture of this nation as a locked down nation for a large segment of their population.
The US is number one,
as we love to say, in incarceration of its citizens; we are only seconded
by Russia. This means that the US has two million of its citizens in federal
and state prisons and jails. And the gross unfairness of this system is
that the vast majority of those in prisons are nonwhite citizens. That,
of course, is no surprise; we all know how criminal nonwhites are
Some interesting aspects of this study of prison statistics
While California is enlightened,
its prison growth rate places it 18 among the states in prison spending;
most of those in prison are there for drug offenses—selling and using;
California is rated number three among the states for incarcerating drug
offenders and 45th
among the states in spending on education. And among states that have
a large racial disparity between those who are incarcerated and their
numbers in society, California ranks 47th, so there are other
states that are more vicious to their Black minority populations than
Texas for instance, the
state of President Bush (and thanks in part to Bush), ranks number three
in spending on prisons, while it is ranked 20th on education
spending, and ranks 15th in incarcerating drug offenders. It
ranks number one in putting citizens to death. Texas has a Black population
of 11% but a Black prison population of 44%.
And in Florida, where the
President’s brother is governor, even though the state ranks 49th
in incarceration rates and 28th in prison spending, Florida
has a Black population that equals 14%, yet a Black prison population
that is 54%. Blacks in that state have a majority only in the prison population.
Florida ranks 18th in spending on education.
The states that have the largest Black prison populations are these:
State…………………Black Population………….Black Prison Pop.
Georgia 29% 64%
Ohio 12% 52%
Iowa 2% 24%
Minnesota 3% 37%
Wisconsin 6% 48%
Illinois 15% 65%
Missouri 11% 45%
Arkansas 16% 52%
Louisiana 33% 76%
Mississippi 36% 75%
Alabama 26% 65%
Tennessee 16% 53%
Kentucky 7% 36%
Indiana 8% 42%
Michigan 14% 55%
South Carolina 30% 69%
North Carolina 22% 64%
Virginia 20% 68%
Pennsylvania 10% 56%
New York 15% 51%
Delaware 19% 63%
Maryland 28% 77%
Connecticut 9% 47%
New Jersey 13% 64%
The states where Blacks are not being placed in prison as
a matter of course are Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, and Idaho, even though
their general populations are small.
Most of the states with a majority of Black prisoners
are found in the south. However, Maryland, which isn’t generally viewed
as a southern state, has the largest percentage of Black prisoners—77%.
But Wisconsin, with a tiny Black population of 6%, has a Black prison
population of 48%. And Mississippi, with the largest Black population
of 36%, has a Black prison population of 75%.
Although Blacks are moving back to the south, the
prison rates for Blacks in the south is generally higher than in the north
and west. However, proportionally, that is not true.
Without a doubt, Blacks are no more criminal than anyone else in this society. Yet, for as long as this country has existed, Blacks have gone through this nation’s criminal justice system and have always been found wanting. Of course, poverty impacts on criminality, but there is more to the large proportion of Blacks in the criminal justice and prison systems of America than poverty. The system is untoward toward African Americans primarily and other ethnic minorities generally.
This negativity toward Blacks is because of the individuals
who administer the systems and the assumptions, biases, and cultural prejudices
they bring to justice. It does not matter what system one lives
under: if it is contaminated by bias, prejudices, and preconceived notions,
that system cannot function fairly.
The full report can be considered in detail at
Mother Jones online. The magazine
takes a look at how America got to this prison mentality, the diseases and
criminality that prison breeds, the costs of incarceration, and the alternatives
to prisons.