A new study by The Sentencing Project found a wide disparity among states in the rates at which whites, blacks, and Hispanics are locked up in jails and prisons, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Nationally in 2005, blacks were held at a rate nearly six times that for whites. Hispanics were held at almost twice the rate for whites. For every 100,000 of their respective populations, 412 whites were held; 2,290 blacks; and 742 Hispanics.
Iowa had the highest black-to-white ratio, 13.6 to 1, and Hawaii had the lowest, 1.9 to 1. States with the highest ratios tended to be in the Northeast and Midwest. “It’s a much more complex situation than to say African-Americans simply commit more crimes,” said The Sentencing Project’s Ryan King. Other factors play a part in the disparities, he said. Among them are where police focus their enforcement efforts, particularly in the war on drugs. “We know that African-Americans are arrested at higher rates, but not necessarily for higher commission” of crimes, he contends.