Statistics of incarcerated African-American males

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The process of gathering and analyzing statistics on an incarcerated African-American male has been taken by several studies on a specific age group, geographical location, causes of incarceration or simply the upbringing of a child over a course of years. Approximately 12%-13% of the American population is African-American, but they make up 40% of the almost 2.1 million male inmates in jail or prison (U.S. Department of Justice, 2009).[1] Census data for 2000 of the number and race of all individuals incarcerated in the United States revealed a wide racial disproportion of the incarcerated population in each state: the proportion of blacks in prison populations exceeded the proportion among state residents in twenty states; the percent of blacks incarcerated was five times greater than the resident population.

According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), African Americans constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population, and have nearly six times the rate of whites.[2] In an August 2013, Sentencing Project report on Racial Disparities in the United States Criminal Justice System, submitted to the United Nations, "one of every three black American males born today can expect to go to prison in his lifetime".[3][4]

Statistics by age group[edit]

(According to America Community Survey.)

Prison vs. College[edit]

Several studies have concluded that overall, more black males are in prison than are enrolled in colleges and universities. In 2000 there were 791,600 black men in prison and 603,032 enrolled in college versus 1980, when there were 143,000 black men in prison and 463,700 enrolled in college. In 2003, according to Justice Department figures, 193,000 black college-age men were in prison, while 532,000 black college-age men were attending college. On an average day in 1996, more black male high school dropouts aged 20–35 were in custody than in paid employment; by 1999, over one-fifth of black non-college men in their early 30’s had prison records.[6]

Other studies contradict this, see NPR Are There Really More Black Men In Prison Than College?.

Black Dropouts by Year[edit]

Percentage of Black high school dropouts 16 to 25


The government is building prisons based on third grade reading test scores[citation needed]. They can conclude whether or not a child will go to prison at some point if their literacy score is low. Recent national data from a study of beginning kindergartners show conclusively that African American males start school already behind other groups of children with respect to emergent reading and mathematical skills (ECLS-K, 1998). Thus, problems in elementary school may have roots in the preschool years. Most African American Children are behind on reading but excel in other subjects (Jencks & Phillips, 1998). The gaps don't stop in elementary school, but are evident in middle and high school if never caught up by the early elementary years (Gordon 2-4)

A new release as September 2012 from Schott Foundation finds only 52% of Black males graduate from high school. From 2001-2002 black males increased and by 10 percent, and 2010–11,was the first year that more than half the black males received a diploma according to Holzman, Michael (2012), Jackson, John H.; Beaudry, Ann, eds., The Urgency of Now: The Schott 50 state report on public education and black males, Schott Foundation for Public Education, retrieved 2014-03-02 .

The leading causes of incarceration for African American males[edit]

  1. The leading cause of incarceration of an African American male is a non-violent drug offense.
    1. Between 1985 and 1995 the American prison population of drug offenders increased from 38,900 to 224,900 with African American males at the top (King 166).
  2. Person crimes
  3. Property crimes

See also[edit]



id=2jOaPh8lDpsC&pg=PA152 The Black Male in White America]. Nova Publishers. ISBN 978-1-59033-757-8.