The year 2023 marks the 50th year since the US prison population began its unprecedented surge. The Sentencing Project is marking this year with a series of reports on Mass Incarceration Trends.
Joining Everyday Injustice this week is Sentencing Project Co-Director of Research, Ashley Nellis.
In a recently published account, Nellis noted, “In 1972, the imprisonment rate was 93 per 100,000 people. The prison expansion that commenced in 1973 reached its peak in 2009, achieving a seven-fold increase over the intervening years. Between 1985 and 1995 alone, the total prison population grew an average of eight percent annually.”
This growth is not evenly distributed: “Racial and ethnic disparities are a substantial feature of the American prison system.”
Nellis writes: “Systemic causes range from a history of racial and ethnic subordination to ongoing police tactics that unfairly ensnare people of color into the system, and also include charging and sentencing practices that create stiffer punishments for people of color. Black men are six times as likely to be incarcerated as white men and Latinx men are 2.5 times as likely. Nationally, one in 81 Black adults in the United States is serving time in state prison.”
Listen as Ashley Nellis of the Sentencing Project discusses some of the critical data behind mass incarceration.