National / Opinion & Editorial / Politics

Young African American men more likely to be imprisoned than employed

by T’ney Stallings

The United States has the highest rate of incarcerated juveniles verses other nations. According to the U.S. Dept. of Justice, about 70,000 juvenile criminal offenders live in detention facilities and about 68 percent are racial minorities.

For every 100,000 African American juveniles in the United States, 521 are in a residential facility, compared with a 112 among white youth, according to 2011 DOJ statistics. Approximately 60 percent of people serving life without parole for crimes committed in their youth in the United States are African American.

According to the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ), the arrest rate among African American youth ages 10-17, is nearly twice the rate of their white peers. Young African Americans are 1.4 times more likely to be detained among all racial groups. In addition, African American students are far more likely than their white peers to be suspended, expelled, or arrested.

Nationwide, juvenile African Americans are more than twice as likely as whites to be transferred to adult court and 60 percent are serving time in adult state prisons. In fact, one of every three young black males is in prison, on probation or on parole.

Juvenile detention is also costly. A 2011 report for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, “No Place for Kids: The Case for Reducing Juvenile Incarceration,” states that “youth incarceration cost $88,000 a year [nationwide].” Meanwhile, education and mentoring programs range from $987-$17,000 a year. Juvenile incarceration decreases the chances of high school graduation by 13-39 percentage points and increases the chances of incarceration as an adult by 23-41 percentage points.

Nearly 23 percent of all young black men ages 16-24 who have dropped out of high school are in jail, prison, or a juvenile justice institution in America, according to the Coalition of Leading National and Regional Education report. The incarceration rate for African Americans is so high that young black men without a high school diploma are more likely to go to jail than to find a job, causing the breakup of families and instilling further poverty upon them.

Since the incarceration rate is highest for African Americans, it makes it more difficult for blacks to rise out of poverty, receive higher levels of education, and escape a life of crime.

That’s why young African American men without a high school diploma are more likely to be imprisoned than employed.