Raw Data: Fewer Blacks Are Going to Jail These Days


Last week Keith Humphreys noted something interesting: although incarceration rates have gone down recently, the absolute level of white incarceration has risen while the absolute level of black incarceration has fallen. But that’s for prisons. What about local jails?

Same thing, it turns out. Since 2009, the number of white jail inmates has gone up by about 30,000 while the black jail population has gone down by 40,000. Humphreys comments: “In short, if you broaden the lens of analysis from prisons to include jails, the patterns I wrote about are even stronger: Being behind bars is becoming a less common experience for African-Americans and a more common experience for non-Hispanic Whites.”

I don’t quite know what this means, but it’s an interesting tidbit of data. Blacks are still in jail (and prison) at a higher relative rate than whites, but since 2009 that’s at least starting to reverse a little.