Crime - Minorities As Offenders

percent american african inmates

African-Americans—particularly males—commit a higher number of offenses as a proportion of the population than other groups. Throughout the 1990s African-American males between the ages of fourteen and twenty-four made up a growing proportion of homicide offenders. In 1994 African-American males between the ages of fourteen and twenty-four made up more than 30 percent of homicide offenders, but that number has since decreased somewhat. (See Figure 8.1.)

African-American offenders are most likely to commit homicides over drug-related activity. Between 1976 and 2000, 66.3 percent of homicide offenders who had committed their crimes under drug-related circumstances were African-American. A high proportion of felony murders (deaths that occur during such violent crimes as burglary, sexual assault, or robbery) between those years were committed by African-Americans (59.2 percent). Of homicides in the years spanning 1976 and 2000 that involved an intimate victim/offender relationship, 44.4 percent of the offenders were African-American. During those same years, in homicides where a gun was the weapon of choice, 54.6 percent of the offenders were African-American. (See Table 8.3.)

In workplace-related murders between 1976 and 2000, a high proportion of the offenders were white (70.2 percent), while 26.9 percent were African-American. Of gang-related homicides committed between 1976 and 2000, 56.7 percent of the offenders were white. Murders of family members were committed most often by whites (58.3 percent). White offenders accounted for 54.5 percent FIGURE 8.2
Homicides by race of offender and victim, 1976–2000
of arson deaths and 74.3 percent of deaths by poisoning between 1976 and 2000. (See Table 8.3.)

Between 1976 and 2000, when a white homicide offender killed a stranger, the victim was also white between 40 to 50 percent of the time. When an African-American offender killed a stranger, the victim was also African-American at roughly the same percentage. When homicide offenders kill friends or acquaintances, the victim is even more likely to be of the same race. Figure 8.2

TABLE 8.5
Number of inmates in state or federal prisons and local jails, by gender, race, Hispanic origin, and age, June 30, 2002

Number of inmates in state or federal prisons or local jails
Male Female
Age Total1 White2 Black2 Hispanic Total1 White2 Black2 Hispanic
Total 1,848,700 630,700 818,900 342,500 165,800 68,800 65,600 25,400
18–19 78,800 23,100 35,800 16,100 4,200 1,800 1,500 900
20–24 340,900 97,000 159,700 73,200 22,100 9,600 7,500 4,500
25–29 340,800 97,800 161,600 72,000 26,800 10,200 10,500 4,700
30–34 329,200 112,800 142,300 65,600 35,700 14,300 14,500 5,500
35–39 294,200 107,900 132,800 45,900 34,400 14,500 14,200 4,500
40–44 213,800 84,200 90,200 33,100 22,000 8,900 9,700 2,500
45–54 183,100 76,500 72,800 27,300 16,200 7,200 6,300 2,200
55 or older 51,400 27,600 14,400 7,000 3,000 1,900 800 400
Note: Based on custody counts from National Prisoners Statistics (NPS-1A), 2002, and Annual Survey of Jails, 2002. Estimates by age were obtained from Survey of Inmates in Local Jails, 2002, Survey of Inmates in State Correctional Facilities, 1997, and Federal Justice Statistics Program (FJSP) for inmates on September 30, 2001. Estimates were rounded to the nearest 100.
1Includes American Indians, Alaska Natives, Asians, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders.
2Excludes Hispanics.
SOURCE: Paige M. Harrison and Jennifer C. Karberg, "Table 13. Number of Inmates in State or Federal Prisons and Local Jails, by Gender, Race, Hispanic Origin, and Age, June 30, 2002," in Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2002, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Washington, DC, 2003 [Online] http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/pjim02.pdf [accessed March 11, 2004]

TABLE 8.6
Number of inmates in state or federal prisons and local jails per 100,000 residents, by gender, race, Hispanic origin, and age, June 30, 2002

Number of inmates in state or federal prisons or local jails
Male Female
Age Total1 White2 Black2 Hispanic Total1 White2 Black2 Hispanic
Total 1,309 649 4,810 1,740 113 68 349 137
18–19 1,800 831 5,715 2,146 100 67 233 133
20–24 3,387 1,521 11,529 4,081 230 158 520 287
25–29 3,586 1,615 12,877 4,339 282 170 752 314
30–34 3,213 1,680 11,001 3,878 348 213 1,024 366
35–39 2,534 1,356 9,545 2,776 297 183 924 302
40–44 1,827 1,006 6,738 2,402 187 107 650 193
45–54 974 543 3,885 1,512 83 50 281 120
55 or older 194 130 665 362 9 7 25 17
Note: Based on the latest available estimates of the U.S. resident population for July 1, 2002, from the 2002 census (by gender, race and Hispanic origin) and 1990 census, adjusted for undercount (by age).
1Includes American Indians, Alaska Natives, Asians, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders.
2Excludes Hispanics.
SOURCE: Paige M. Harrison and Jennifer C. Karberg, "Table 14. Number of Inmates in State or Federal Prisons and Local Jails per 100,000 Residents, by Gender, Race, Hispanic Origin, and Age, June 30, 2002," in Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2002, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Washington, DC, 2003

shows the racial breakdown of murders between 1976 and 2000.

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