About 5% of Black American men are in prison.
The primary reasons are drug related offenses There is huge sentencing disparity between White and Black Americans.
African-Americans are arrested, prosecuted, and imprisoned for drug offenses at far higher rates than whites. This racial disparity bears little relationship to racial differences in drug offending. For example, although the proportion of all drug users who are black is generally in the range of 13 to 15 percent, blacks constitute 36 percent of arrests for drug possession. Blacks constitute 63 percent of all drug offenders admitted to state prisons. In at least fifteen states, black men were sent to prison on drug charges at rates ranging from twenty to fifty-seven times those of white men. (Figure 4 and Figure 5). 5 Department of Justice, "Midyear 2002," p. 11, Table 14.
6 Human Rights Watch, "Race and Incarceration" at:
7 Data calculated from Department of Justice, "Midyear 2002," p. 11, Table 14.
8 Human Rights Watch, "Race and Incarceration" at: http://www.hrw.org/backgrounder/ usa/race/pdf/table2a.pdf
Calculated from National Corrections Reporting Program, 1996, and Bureau of Census, 2000 data.