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The United States is the world’s leader in incarceration with 2.2 million people currently in the nation’s prisons or jails — a 500% increase over the past thirty years [Source: The Sentencing Project]. The report also indicates that in 2011, incarcerations per 100,000 people were:

  1. USA – 748
  2. Russia – 559
  3. Spain 156
  4. Canada – 117
  5. Germany – 87
  6. Japan – 58

In 1986, before mandatory minimums for crack offenses became effective, the average federal drug offense sentence for Black was 11% higher than for Whites. Four years later, following the implementation of harsher drug sentencing laws, the average federal drug offense sentence was 49% higher for Blacks. (Source: Meierhoefer, B. S., The General Effect of Mandatory Minimum Prison Terms: A Longitudinal Study of Federal Sentences Imposed (Washington DC: Federal Judicial Center, 1992), p. 20)

From 1989 to 2009, prison and jail populations grew 335%, with more and more youth being detained in the juvenile justice system.
One in three Black men between the ages of 20 and 29 years old is under correctional supervision or control. (Source: Mauer, M. & Huling, T., Young Black Americans and the Criminal Justice System: Five Years Later (Washington DC: The Sentencing Project, 1995).

An NAACP Criminal Justice Fact Sheet highlights Racial and Drug Sentencing disparities:

Racial Disparities in Incarceration:

  • African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population
  • African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites
  • Together, African American and Hispanics comprised 58% of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately one quarter of the US population
  • According to Unlocking America, if African American and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rates of whites, today’s prison and jail populations would decline by approximately 50%
  • One in six black men had been incarcerated as of 2001. If current trends continue, one in three black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime
  • 1 in 100 African American women are in prison
  • Nationwide, African-Americans represent 26% of juvenile arrests, 44% of youth who are detained, 46% of the youth who are judicially waived to criminal court, and 58% of the youth admitted to state prisons (Source: Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice).

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