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Racial Disproportionality in State Prison Admissions: Can Regional Variation be Explained by Differential Arrest Rates?

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 31 Issue: 1 Dated: January/February 2003 Pages: 73-84
Jon Sorensen; Robert Hope; Don Stemen
Kent B. Joscelyn
Date Published
January 2003
12 pages
This article reviews recent studies concerning regionally disproportionate rates of incarceration for Blacks.
This article reports that studies have found that States in the Midwest incarcerate Blacks at a higher rate than those in the South and examines whether this disproportional regional pattern of incarceration rates could be explained by a refined measurement that controls for race-specific arrest rates. It was found that by controlling for race-specific arrest rates, the level of racial disproportionality in imprisonment decreased among all of the regions, though previously observed regional differences remained. It was found that disproportionate rates of incarceration by race among regions were due to differential involvement in serious crimes by race resulting from a higher concentration of Blacks relative to whites in urban areas in the Midwest. In conclusion, based on this information, regional variations in the level of racial disproportionality in prison admissions no longer seems anomalous. Tables provide information on estimation of the Black percentage among admissions to prison, assuming no post-arrest discrimination; comparison of crime-type-specific percentage of Blacks among prison admissions and arrests; racial disproportionality in State prison admission rates; regional differences in racial disproportionality in State prison admissions; and regional differences in the proportion of Blacks and whites residing in urban areas. A source list of references is included.