Prison Report Cites Racial Disparity Among New Jersey Inmates


Blacks in New Jersey are 13 times more likely to wind up in jail than whites — a higher disparity than any other state, according to a report by a Washington research group.

The report by the Sentencing Project, which advocates alternatives to prison, notes that 63 percent of New Jersey’s prison population is black in a state with an African-American population of less than 14 percent.

New Jersey’s 13-to-1 disparity is twice the national average, and is topped only by the District of Columbia, where blacks are 29 times more likely to be in jail.

The report, based on recent federal statistics on the nation’s prison population, said 2,117 blacks per 100,000 people in New Jersey are in county or state prisons, compared with 161 whites per 100,000.

“I am deeply concerned about the numbers,” state Corrections Commissioner Devon Brown told the Star-Ledger.

The study did not explain the reasons behind the racial disparities. Academic experts say a crackdown on street-level drug dealing in urban areas contributed to the disparity in New Jersey prisons. Minorities accounted for 92 percent of the inmates in New Jersey state prisons serving time for drug offenses in 1999.


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