View Full Version : Male prison population mostly black

08-24-2003, 09:28 AM
Male prison population mostly black

Racism, poverty, education could all be factors, officials say
By Matt Volz
Associated Press Writer

One of about every 12 black Mississippi men in their 20s is an inmate in the Mississippi prison system, state corrections and census statistics show.

Criminal justice observers say that rate, more than four times that of white men ages 20-29, may be the result of racism, widespread poverty and low education levels.

Mississippi Department of Corrections statistics show 6,185 black men ages 20-29 were in the state prison system on July 31. That's just over 8 percent of the 75,901 black men in that age group living in Mississippi when the 2000 Census was taken.

In contrast, 1.7 percent of white men in that age range were in prison.

The American Civil Liberties Union says the lopsided numbers reflect the racism in the country's criminal justice system.

Mississippi's male prison population is largely black. Of 21,142 male inmates, 14,765, or 69.8 percent, were black. White inmates make up 29.4 percent.

In Mississippi, 36.3 percent of the population is black and 61.4 percent is white.

Kara Gotsch, public policy coordinator for the ACLU's National Prisons Project, said most black inmates are nonviolent offenders who get jail time instead of alternative sentences because of their skin color.

But the high number of black male inmates may be a sign of larger societal problems, said Don Cabana, associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Southern Mississippi and a former corrections commissioner.

"It goes to the heart of age-old debates that have taken place in prison circles: the impact of environment, poverty, racism, even access to education," Cabana said.

About 35 percent of black Mississippians live below the poverty level, compared to 11 percent of white residents, the census shows.

"Until we find some real solutions to the pockets of poverty that exist and how that poverty condemns some of those people to the lifestyle they're living, we're going to see prison populations that consist of poor whites and poor minorities," Cabana said.

Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps said education could be a factor. The average inmate reads, writes and does arithmetic on a fifth grade level, he said.


The racial breakdown of Mississippi's 21,142 prisoners as of July 31, 2003:

Black: 69.8 percent

White: 29.4 percent

Hispanic: 0.5 percent

American Indian: 0.1 percent

Asian: 0.1 percent

Source: Mississippi Department of Corrections

08-24-2003, 10:10 AM
This isn't just in Mississippi, throughout the country the rates are almost double for blacks than for whites. But we only make up 13% of the total US population. No one can tell me this isn't modern day slavery.

God help us,

Mrs. Joe