Black Imprisonment Rate in U.S. Has Been Declining

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Hillary Clinton has been criticized for supporting the 1994 federal crime law, which critics charge is fueling mass incarceration of African Americans. Defenders of the law, including Bill Clinton, maintain that it was a necessary response to rising violent crime and that it had support from black voters and elected officials.

Actually, the African-American imprisonment rate has been declining for many years, Stanford psychiatry Prof. Keith Humphreys writes in the Washington Post. The likelihood of African-American men and women being in prison today is lower than it was a generation ago when the law was passed.

At the end of 2014, the African-American male imprisonment rate had dropped to a level not seen since early 1993. The change for African-American women is even more marked, with the 2014 imprisonment rate being the lowest point in the quarter-century of data available. These are trends unique to blacks rather than being part of a broader pattern of deincarceration. The white imprisonment rate has been rising rather than falling.


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