Black Americans incarcerated five times more than white people- report

Data analyzes racial disparities in country prison population asOklahoma and New Jersey among states where disparity is 10 periods or more

You cant work in criminal justice systems and not know only by appearing that there are racial disparities in the system, said Baz Dreisinger, the creator of the Prison-to-College Pipeline program which prepares New York inmates in state prison for higher education.

Every year we maybe have one white student in our class, Dreisinger said. Patently race is not remotely an admissions factor for us, but its just the reality of what it is.

A report published on Tuesday sought to put data behind that reality by analyzing race within country prisons and comparing those findings to the US census.

Black Americans were incarcerated in state prisons at an average rate of 5. 1 times that of white Americans, the report said, and in some states that rate was 10 times or more. The US is 63.7% non-Hispanic white, 12.2% black, 8.7% Hispanic white and 0.4% Hispanic black, according to the most recent census.

The research was conducted by Ashley Nellis, a senior research analyst with the Sentencing Project, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit that promotes reforms in criminal justice policy and advocates for alternatives to incarceration.

Nellis found that in five nations, the gap rate was more than double the average. New Jersey had the highest, with a ratio of 12.2 black people to one white person in its prison system, followed by Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Vermont.

Overall, Oklahoma had the highest rate of black people incarcerated with 2,625 black inmates people per 100,000 residents. Oklahoma is 7.7% black.

Among black men in 11 nations, at least 1 in 20 were in a state prison.

Hawaii, which is 2.5% black, had the lowest incarceration rate among black people( 585 per 100,000 ), and the lowest ratio 2.4 black Americans to 1 white in its prisons.

A map from the report tweeted by the Sentencing Project of the black and white disparity by nation

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

Nellis said these numbers were more difficult to crunch because of variations in reporting race and ethnicity and the fact that four nations report no data on them. Because of this, she said, prison population data on Hispanics or Latinos was likely to be an underestimate.

It seems very unlikely that in a state like Florida that has a large percentage of Hispanics that merely 4% of the prison population would be Hispanic, Nellis said.

For Dreisinger, the findings were not surprising. But she said she saw the data as ammo for backing up reform efforts and identifying problems.

In her publishing, Nellis wrote that the reasons for the racial inequality were problems in policy, implicit biases and structural disadvantages.

Criminal justice reform, especially relative to race, has been a key issue for Barack Obama, particularly in the past year. Last July, in a speech to the NAACP, Obama acknowledged those structural disadvantages, calling Americas criminal justice system skewed by race and wealth. He banned juvenile solitary confinement in federal prisons and urged state prisons to do the same. According to a recent White House press release, Obama has commuted the sentences of 348 people, on top of the 6, 000 released last October by the justice department.

In the Senate, a rewritten bipartisan criminal justice bill aiming to reduce mandatory minimum sentences was introduced in April.

The research focused on state prisons only, because the majority of people in prison are sentenced at the nation level rather than the federal level, as Nellis wrote in her report. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the nation prison population in 2014 was 1,350, 958, while the federal was 210,567.

Dreisinger said she was beginning to see reform across the country and in New York state, thanks to things like newfound access inmates have to federal Pell Grants for college.

But Dreisinger acknowledged there was only so much that federal action can do.

The nations are where the issue lies, she said.

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