I’m pleased to share with you a new study on race and incarceration by The Sentencing Project. The Color of Justice: Racial and Ethnic Disparity in State Prisons, authored by Ashley Nellis, finds that African Americans are incarcerated in state prisons across the country at more than five times the rate of whites.
New Jersey tops the nation in terms of disparity in its incarceration rates, with a black/white ratio of more than 12 to 1. Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and Vermont follow closely behind, incarcerating African Americans at more than 10 times the rate of whites. Even states with the lowest black incarceration rates report higher figures than states with the highest white incarceration rates.
Hispanics are incarcerated nationally in state facilities at a rate that is 1.4 times the rate for non-Hispanic whites, but at a much higher rate in Massachusetts (4.3), Connecticut (3.9), Pennsylvania (3.3), and New York (3.1). In raw numbers, Hispanic incarceration is highest in border and southwestern states.
The report identifies three contributors to racial and ethnic disparities in imprisonment: criminal justice policies and practices, implicit bias, and structural disadvantages. Combined or separately, these pervade the criminal justice system and undermine support for law enforcement in neighborhoods where it often is most needed, tarnishing the credibility of the legal system across the country.