We always hear about the disproportionate number of blacks in prison, but I’ve always wondered: how many are incarcerated and what does that really mean? What I didn’t realize is how difficult it is to pin down a precise number. I mean, true, it doesn’t take too much to find out that black men are incarcerated at a rate six and a half times higher than white men. That’s easily available through the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. But ever since the Justice Policy Institute released a report in 2002 stating that there were more black men in jail than college, people have just ran with the numbers. Even President Obama did it. That study, however, quoted figures from 10 years ago and, surprisingly, the number of blacks in prison has actually declined. And I haven’t been able to find anything recent that concretely dispels the myth, only skeptics that point to the fact that the saying is a myth. So I decided to do my own update to see if the old saying is still true.
There you have it.