NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

More Black Men in Jail Than in College

August 28, 2002

The number of black men in jail or prison has grown fivefold in the past 20 years -- to the point where more black men are behind bars than are enrolled in colleges and universities. So concludes a report prepared by the Justice Policy Institute.

  • The study found that in 2000 there were 791,600 black men 17 years or older in jail or prison and 603,032 enrolled in colleges or universities.
  • In 1980 however, there were 143,000 black men in jail or prison and 463,700 enrolled in colleges or universities.
  • But it may be misleading to compare the two categories because the number in jail or prison includes all adult black men 17 years or older, while the number in institutions of higher learning is confined to a narrower student-age population in their late teens and early twenties.
  • Also, it takes no account of the hundreds of thousands of black males in the larger population who have already attended and graduated from colleges.

Over the last two decades, the number of Americans of all races in jail or prison quadrupled -- to 2.1 million in 2000 from 502,000 in 1980.

During the same period, the number of Americans of all races attending colleges or universities rose to 14.8 million from 12.1 million.

Source: Fox Butterfield, "Study Finds Big Increase in Black as Inmates Since 1980," New York Times, August 28, 2002.

 

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