Racial disparities in incarceration

Since 2020, the Bureau of Justice Statistics has reported on more racial and ethnic categories in jail populations, as well as prison populations by sex. These new statistics underscore the ongoing racial injustice of prisons, where the national incarceration rate of Black people is six times the rate of white people and more than twice the rate in every single state.

A few months ago, we released an updated dataset with incarceration rates by race (covering 2021 for prisons and 2019 for jails) for every state and the District of Columbia. Our Racial Justice page also contains reports, briefings, research, and visualizations focused on the intersection of race and mass incarceration.

State policies (still) drive mass incarceration

State-level policies are responsible for incarcerating the vast majority of people in the United States. Recent data show many state prison populations have nearly returned to, or even surpassed, their pre-pandemic levels—highlighting a serious need for policies that will permanently reduce prison populations. (State lawmakers and advocates should check out the high-impact policy ideas we compile every year for our Winnable Battles series.)


Read the full article about racial disparities in incarceration by Leah Wang at Prison Policy Initiative.