There has been a significant decline in the U.S imprisonment rate over the past six years. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, African Americans are being incarcerated less while whites are starting to serve time at higher rates.
The series of reports show that the biggest change has been among women. The imprisonment rate among African-American women has dropped 47 percent, while the rate among white women has risen by 56 percent.
This pattern is very similar to men, who compose a larger share of the prison population in general. Sadly, the imprisonment among African-American men still remains very high, but on the upside, it has decreased by a mere 22%.
Fordham University Professor John Pfaff says, “This is one of the most surprising patterns of results I have seen in corrections in a long time.” Pfaff said that “law enforcement attitudes getting tougher in rural areas and softer in urban areas may be contributing to this change.”
The director of the public safety performance project of the Pew Charitable Trusts suggested that “changes in drug use and enforcement over the past 15 years could be at play.” Gelb also added that the methamphetamine, prescription opioid and heroin epidemics have affected whites more than the historical crack cocaine epidemic affected blacks in the 1980s and 1990s.
Although we are nowhere near where we need to be a functioning and equal society, these results prove that injustices are indeed changing for the better. The current energy that is happening culturally and macroeconomically with people of color could have driven this change. Shout out to #BlackLivesMatter and all of the other African American creatives and activists who dedicate their life and their work to making the world a better place. It’s working, let’s continue to fight for what’s right.