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Blacks incarcerated 5 times more than whites in US: Report

19 June 2016 18:36

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African Americans are incarcerated in state prisons at an average rate of 5 times that of white Americans, according to a new report.

In some US states, the incarceration rate for blacks was 10 times or even more, according the Sentencing Project, a non-profit organization in Washington, DC, that advocates for change in sentencing policy and addressing unjust racial disparities in prisons.

According to the most recent census, the US population ratio is 63.7 percent non-Hispanic white, 12.2 percent black, 8.7 percent Hispanic white and 0.4 percent Hispanic black.

In five states, the racial disparity rate was more than double the national average, said Ashley Nellis, a senior research analyst with the Sentencing Project.

New Jersey had the highest disparity, with a ratio of 12.2 black people to one white person in its prison system, followed by Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Vermont.

Hawaii had the lowest ratio, with 2.4 black Americans for every white inmate in its prisons.

Oklahoma had the highest overall rate of African Americans incarcerated, with 2,625 black prison inmates per 100,000 residents.

For Latinos or Hispanics, there was also a disparity compared to white prison populations. The average ratio for all states was 1.4 to 1.

Nellis said prison population data on Latinos was likely to be an underestimate because of variations in reporting race and ethnicity and the fact that four states report no data on them.

“You can’t work in the justice system and not know just by looking that there are racial disparities in the system,” said Baz Dreisinger, the creator of the Prison-to-College Pipeline program.

Last July, in a speech in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for a black civil rights organization, US President Barack Obama acknowledged the vast racial disparities in American prisons, calling the US criminal justice system “skewed by race and wealth.”

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