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Criminal Disjustice In The Black Community

Having a Facebook conversation with someone who goes more on emotion instead of logic has been an interesting thing. I’m about data when I research and write. Despite what the emotional content may be (in this case incarcerated population numbers) I prefer going by the numbers using logic to form my opinion. 

I got my numbers for the last year from the Bureau of Prisons which states that the majority of prisoners on hand are white. With black coming in second, latino third, native fourth, and asian last. (https://www.bop.gov/about/statistics/statistics_inmate_race.jsp)

His passion on the subject,and his determination to change my perception, made me decide to dig in and do more research. The numbers fluctuate depending on how the count is done and who does it. This is generally normal. So, I looked up more data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. (https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p19.pdf

Here is the breakdown of their numbers, which are for 2019 totals. There were a total of 1,430,805 prisoners in the system. The majority of them in state facilities at 1,255,689 and 175,116 in the federal system. Men make up 1,322,850 while women make up 107,995. The last decade shows a drop in incarcerated numbers of over 10% in all categories. The numbers of male v females weren’t the topic of discussion. So let’s break down the numbers by race.

Those incarcerated in 2019 (tried and sent) break down as such: federal (158,498) State (1,221,929), Men (1,279,079) Women (101,348), White (422,800) Black (452,800), Hispanic (320,700). 

Based on per capita numbers of per 100,000, the numbers are as follows: Federal (48) State (371), Male (789) Women (61), White (214) Black (1096) Hispanic (525). 

Incarceration rates have dropped as listed over the last decade: Federal (21%) State (16.2%), Men (17.1%) Women (10%), White (12.5%) Black (29%) Hispanic (24.4%).

Depending on where you look, the numbers vary. The BJS does not include the specific numbers for Indeginous or Asian populations like the BOP does. However, both show a lower rate of those to demographics. 

Looking at the BJS numbers, there are two stories told. The first is that white and black prisoners overall, have about the same numbers of incarcerated with those of the black community slightly higher. But when it is broken down into the per capita ratio, the numbers show a huge difference. 

Taking the current population number (2018 record) of the nearest city to me, Fort Wayne Indiana at 267,633, the totals would be roughly White (approx 500) Black (approx 2500) and Hispanic (approx 1100). 

The breakdown by race in Fort Wayne is listed as: White (73.85%) Black (14.85%) with multi racial and other groups making up the rest. 

There are quite a few factors that go into the arrest and incarceration rates. These would include job availability, education, investments in the varying communities, nature/nurture, etc. And while I will post about these at a later date, the numbers don’t lie. That is why I prefer data to emotion. In this case, the emotion is warranted by minority communities. 

Fort Wayne, like the majority of our cities, needs to do better. Both in equality in sentencing and in programs that aid the black community achieve their goals. Economically, educationally, and within the Criminal Justice system. 

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