With only 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. has 25% of the world’s prison population
NATIONAL Racial Disparities:
While reading the following statistics, note that the 2010 Census found that 12.6% of Americans are black.
- 1 in 3 black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime.
- 1 in 30 men between the ages of 20-34 are behind bars.
- 1 in 9 black men age 20-34 are behind bars.
- 1 in 11 black adults is under correctional supervision.
- African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population
- African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites.
- Together, African American and Hispanics comprised 58% of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately one quarter of the US population.
- According to Unlocking America, if African American and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rates of whites, today's prison and jail populations would decline by approximately 50%.
- 1 in 100 African American women are in prison.
- Nationwide, African-Americans represent 26% of juvenile arrests, 44% of youth who are detained, 46% of the youth who are judicially waived to criminal court, and 58% of the youth admitted to state prisons (Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice).
While reading the following statistics, note that 16.3% of Americans identified as "Hispanic or Latino" in the 2010 Census.
- Latinos comprise about 20% of all inmates (federal, state, jail). That's a total of approx. 493,000 prison and jail inmates.
- Latinos comprise 34.2% of federal inmates, up from 26% in 1990. Over that period, the white population fell and the black population rose modestly.
- The Latino incarceration rate is about 986 per 100,000 residents. That's higher than the national rate, which is already the highest in the world at 731 per 100,000 residents. For Latino men, that rate is 1,775 - a little over 2.5 times the rate for white men.
- The Latino incarceration rate in 1990 was 548 per 100,000 residents; it has almost doubled in the last 20 years.
- One of every six Hispanic males and one of every 45 Hispanic females born today can expect to go to prison in his or her lifetime. These rates are more than double those for non-Hispanic whites. One in 36 Hispanic males over the age of 18 is in prison or jail.
- In 2006, Latinos comprised 24% of county-court felony drug defendants. In 2010, Latinos accounted for 43% of federal felony drug convictions. Nevertheless, Hispanics are less likely than the average American to use drugs.
Race and the Drug War:
- Federal surveys consistently find no significant difference in drug usage rates among racial groups (in 2010, 9.1% of whites over age 12 used some illicit substance in the previous month), blacks (10.7%), and Latinos (8.1%).
- In 1980, there were about 40,000 people in American jails and prisons for drug crimes. Today, there are almost 500,000.
- 55 percent of the federal prison population is serving time for a drug offense. In 1985, that number was 25 percent.
- Between 1994 and 2002, the average time served by African Americans for a drug offense increased by 73%, as compared to an increase 25% for white drug offenders.
- Nonetheless, drug arrest rates (arrests per 100,000 persons) are far higher for blacks than for whites.
- (1) In 2007, the national black arrest rate for any drug offense was 3.6 times higher than the white arrest rate.
- (2) Or, perhaps a quick way to capture it is this: Black men and women account 13% of the population, but for 35% of all drug arrests, 44% of all drug convictions, and 51% of state drug prisoners.
REFORM in maryland:
- Marijuana Decriminalization
- ACLU of Maryland Executive Director Susan Goering's Op-ed in the Baltimore Sun on the need for marijuana decriminalization in Maryland
- ACLU of Maryland advocates in the 2013 Maryland General Assembly for the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana
- Protecting the Right to a Lawyer
- In 2013, the ACLU of Maryland successfully defended the right to counsel when a bill was proposed to require defendants to go through a process of re-qualification for representation by the Office of the Public Defender.
- This bill would have infringed upon the constitutional guarantee that a person is entitled to appointed counsel during any critical stages of the proceedings against them.
- Abolishing Harsh Mandatory Minimums
- Maryland spends between $2-3 milion per year to incarcerate people due to mandatory minimum sentencing
- In 2011, the ACLU of Maryland advocated for a bill which would repeal the mandatory minimum sentence for certain drug-related offenses and to allow those convicted of certain offenses to participate in drug treatment programs as an alternative.
- Graduated Sanctions
- In 2011, the ACLU advocated for a bi-partisan bill that would create a new, "graduated sanctions" approach to Maryland's parole system
- Instead of responding to all parole violations with the revoking of parole and a return to prison, the new system would provide other types of disciplinary actions for parolees whose violations are minor and do not warrant incarceration.
Expanding "Good Time" Credit
In 2012, the ACLU successfully passed a bi-partisan bill which aims to reduce recidivism by providing an incentive system to encourage low risk probationers and parolees to earn compliance credits through good behavior, ending their supervision early and avoiding behavior that lands them back in jail.