Black-White Youth Incarceration Gap is Growing

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Youth incarceration rates are dropping but there is a widening gap between black and white youth confinement, NPR reports. Criminal justice reform advocates say a heightened police presence in minority areas is to blame. Justice Department data shows a 54 percent drop in incarceration of people under 21 between 2001 and 2015. In 2015, 152 of 100,000 youths were incarcerated in the U.S. — a drop from 2001, when 334 of 100,000 youths were behind bars.

An analysis by The Sentencing Project of federal data since the start of the century showed that in 2001, black children were four times more likely to be incarcerated than white children. By 2015, black children were five times more likely than white children to be incarcerated: some 86 of 100,000 white children were incarcerated, while the number for black children was 433 of 100,000 behind bars.

Every two years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzes youth risk behavior, including alcohol use, drug use, behaviors that contribute to violence and others. The results from its 2015 study show black youths are not committing more crimes in proportion to white youths. There are some slight behavioral differences.

White youths are more likely to carry weapons, drink alcohol and do harder drugs, while black youths are more likely to get into fights, smoke marijuana and handle drugs on school property.

See also Vincent Schiraldi’s TCR essay: It’s Time to Close ‘Factories of Failure’ 

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