Monday, July 23, 2007

Urban News: Study Shows Racial Disparities in Prison

Blacks in the United States are imprisoned at more than five times the rate of whites, and Hispanics are locked up at nearly double the white rate, according to a study released last week by the Sentencing Project, a Washington, D.C. based think tank.

Significant findings from the report include that states in the Midwest and Northeast have the greatest black-to-white disparity in incarceration; and Iowa had the widest disparity in the nation, imprisoning blacks at more than 13 times the rate of whites. The study says that in Iowa, for every 100,000 people, the state incarcerates 309 whites and 4,200 blacks.

Paul Stageberg, administrator of the Iowa Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning, said the results are not surprising, but the causes are subject to interpretation. He said the state's disproportionately high black arrest rates are likely linked to high poverty rates among blacks and lower educational achievement.

Marc Mauer, the Sentencing Project's Executive Director, says that these figures "reflect a failure of social and economic interventions to address crime effectively, as well as racial bias in the justice system".

States with the lowest black-to-white ratios were Hawaii, with 1.9, Georgia with 3.3 and Mississippi with 3.5.


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