Black Progress Overstated Because Black Inmates Aren’t Counted in Data


Because imprisoned black men aren't figured in statistics about the standing of African-Americans, the result is an overstatement of black progress in education, employment, wages, and voting participation, says researcher Becky Pettit of the University of Washington. The Russell Sage Foundation published Pettit’s “Invisible Men: Mass Incarceration and the Myth of Black Progress,” says the New York Times. Among the conclusions:

Of male high school dropouts born between 1975 and 1979, 68 percent of blacks (compared with 28 percent of whites) had been imprisoned by 2009, and 37 percent of blacks (compared with 12 percent of whites) were incarcerated that year. By the time they turn 18, one in four black children will have experienced the imprisonment of a parent. More young black dropouts are in prison or jail than have paying jobs. Black men are more likely to go to prison than to graduate with a four-year college degree or complete military service. If inmates were counted, the black high school dropout rate would soar to 19 percent and the share of dropouts who are employed would fall to 26 percent, far more dire than data usually cited.

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