Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Study Finds Big Increase in Black Men as Inmates Since 1980, says the New York Times headline. That's understating it a bit. In 1980, 143,000 black men in jail and 463,700 enrolled at a place of higher learning. In 2000, those numbers are 791,000 in jail and 603,200 in college. The number of blacks in jail increased about 6-fold over that period, while the number of prisoners has increased 4-fold.

So what's changed since 1980? Black men? Yeah, right. Nobody is getting more violent than before - we've always been pretty high on the violence scale in the US. So what else? Well, there was this greatly increased emphasis on the drug war. The Justice Department claims that the increase in black prison population was only 20% due to drug offenses, but there may be some cooking of those numbers. That and they didn't bother going before 1990.

Any good news? Well, the number of black men in college increased by 30% over that period, which is faster than the 22% general increase.

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