In mid-July, 1991, the U.S. Department of Justice released a study titled Race of Prisoners Admitted to State and Federal Institutions, 1926-86. The results of the study are no big surprise. In 1926 78% of state and federal prisoners were white, 21% black, and 1% were listed as other. Then, year by year, the percentage of confined white prisoners dropped while that of black prisoners regularly increased. By 1986 only 55% of state and federal prisoners were white, while 44% were black (those listed as "others" remained at 1%).
The more than 100% increase in the ratio of black to white prisoners (21% black in 1926 and 44% black in 1986) cannot be explained by general population trends. The number of blacks relative to the general population was about the same in both years, 10% in 1926 and 12% in 1986.
Copies of the above report can be obtained from the Justice Statistics Clearinghouse, U.S. Department of Justice, Box 6000, Rockville, MD 20850.
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