Black Imprisonment Rate In the U.S. Has Fallen By a Third Since 2006

The nation’s imprisonment rate is at its lowest level in more than two decades. The greatest decline has come among black Americans, whose imprisonment rate has decreased 34% since 2006.

There were 1,501 black prisoners for every 100,000 black adults at the end of 2018, according to a new report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), the statistical agency of the U.S. Justice Department. That was down sharply from 2,261 black inmates per 100,000 black adults at the end of 2006, according to an earlier BJS study. These statistics only count inmates sentenced to more than a year in state or federal prison. They exclude inmates held in local jails and those sentenced to shorter periods of imprisonment.

Imprisonment rates have also declined for the two other major racial or ethnic groups tracked by BJS – Hispanic and white Americans – though not as much as among blacks. Between 2006 and 2018, the imprisonment rate fell 26% among Hispanics and 17% among whites.