Sharp Decline in Black Incarceration For Drug Offenses

This was an embargoed heads-up sent to me by WORD Senior Writer/Producer Kisha Allison: From The Sentencing Project – 

 WASHINGTON, DC- For the first time in 25 years, since the inception of the “war on drugs,” the number of African Americans incarcerated in state prisons for drug offenses has declined substantially, according to a study released today by The Sentencing Project. It finds a 21.6 percent drop in the number of blacks incarcerated for a drug offense, a decline of 31,000 people during the period 1999-2005.

 The study, The Changing Racial Dynamics of the War on Drugs, also documents a corresponding rise in the number of whites in state prison for a drug offense, an increase of 42.6% during this time frame, or more than 21,000 people. The number of Latinos incarcerated for state drug offenses was virtually unchanged.

“The unparalleled growth in the U.S. prison population is directly related to policies that prioritized enforcement and harsh punishments for low-level drug offenses,” said Marc Mauer, Executive Director of The Sentencing Project and author of today’s study. “This domestic ‘war on drugs’ was fought on the doorsteps of African American communities, but its disparate impact on these communities may finally be waning.” 

More later, depending on what Allison wants to do.

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