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Decrease in Black Jail Incarceration Rate and Stabilization of White Rate

“A new report by the Vera Institute of Justice finds that while African Americans are still overrepresented in local jails nationally, the black jail incarceration rate has begun to decline while the white rate has only stabilized. In “Divided Justice: Trends in Black and White Jail Incarceration, 1990-2013,” authors Ram Subramanian, Kristine Riley, and Chris Mai use jail incarceration figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics to calculate incarceration rates among people aged 15 to 64. The report reveals that African Americans remain 3.6 times as likely as whites to be incarcerated in local jails nationally. But while the black jail incarceration rate declined by 20% between 2005 an d 2013, the white jail incarceration rate rose by 1%.The white jail incarceration rate has grown most significantly in rural areas and small cities. Possible explanations for this trend include the opioid epidemic, rural communities misidentifying Latinos as whites, and these communities’ reluctance to adopt jail reduction strategies. Meanwhile reforms to policies that have disproportionately impacted black Americans, such as stop-and-frisk policing and drug law enforcement, have reduced the black jail incarceration rate. The report recommends improving data collection on racial disparities in jails, measuring how system actors exercise their discretion, and studying the root causes of racial disparities in jail incarceration.” Source: Subramanian, Ram, et al. “Divided Justice: Trends in Black and White Jail Incarceration, 1990-2013.” Vera Institute of Justice.

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