Stats on crimes African Americans
Mass Incarceration

USSC Report: African Americans Have Highest Incarceration Rates in US

The United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) has released its fifth statistical data on prison incarceration rates in the country. Once again, African Americans have the highest incarceration rates among all races, the report shows.

The study gathers national data on sentencing for offenders between October 2011 and October 2016. The independent agency started with the study in 2003.

Oprah Winfrey (right) speaks with ex-prison inmate Shaka Senghor about the OWN TV docuseries 'Released.'
Oprah Winfrey (right) speaks with ex-prison inmate Shaka Senghor about the OWN TV docuseries ‘Released.’ Image Source: Essence

USSC report: Black and Hispanic male offenders have longer sentences than white male offenders

  • Sentences among black male offenders were about 19.1 percent longer than white male offenders.
  • Sentences among Hispanic male offenders were 5.3 percent longer than white male offenders.

Under the minimum sentencing requirements,

  • African Americans had 16.8 percent longer sentences than their white counterparts.
  • Hispanics had 10.6 percent longer sentences than those of white men.

Same Times, Different Crimes

USSC report: Women had shorter sentences than men

The USSC report also found that women offenders, regardless of race, were sentenced less harshly than male offenders.

  • White women received about 26 percent shorter sentences.
  • Hispanic women had 25.5 percent shorter sentences.
  • Black women were given 21.1 percent shorter sentences.
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Around 14,000 women are held in the federal prison, mainly for drug-related charges.

What Other Factors Affect Length of Sentence?

  • Citizenship had a bearing on length of prison sentence

Non-citizens had longer sentences tha those who are citizens.

  • Education made no difference in length of sentence
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 Similar offenders, with or without some form of college education were given the same length of sentence.

It is worthy to note that the USSC delineates its reports on the sentencing disparity based on the dates of Supreme Court cases, which have changed the use of federal sentencing guidelines.

The USSC gathers, analyzes and distributes information on federal sentencing practices. It continuously establishes and revises sentencing guidelines for the judicial branch, as well as aids the other branches in developing an effective and efficient crime policy.

Formed by Congress in 1984, the agency seeks to lessen sentencing disparities and promote transparency and proportionality in sentencing.

Melanie Macinas holds a BS degree in Computer Science. She found her passion for writing when she took a content writing position for a BPO company. In 2011, she started her freelancing career as a writer and since then has successfully completed several writing projects for US/UK clients. She now writes news stories for prison loved ones on the Prison Rideshare Network.

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