Race, Education, and Imprisonment

Race, Education, and Imprisonment

Drawing on data from a new study, Christopher Ingraham of WonkBlog has a striking chart today:

Of course, what's most shocking is the incredible spike in the rate at which black men with no high-school degree are incarcerated. And two other things stood out to me on a closer inspection: One, the ratio of black to white incarceration seems to have grown over the years, at least in some measures, and two, at every single point in time represented in every one of these six charts, a white male high-school dropout was less likely to be incarcerated than the average black man.

The usual disclaimer here is that we can't infer discrimination from disproportion (or even, necessarily, rising disproportion). At least some of this has to do with gaps in rates of offending. For example, while blacks are about 13 percent of the population, in victimization surveys conducted in 2001-2005 they were identified as the offender in 78 percent of violent crimes against blacks (who make up a disproportionate share of crime victims), 15 percent of violent crimes against whites, 19 percent of violent crimes against Hispanics, 27 percent of violent crimes against Asians, and 12 percent of violent crimes against Native Americans.

Robert VerBruggen is editor of RealClearPolicy. Twitter: @RAVerBruggen

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