Friday, January 1, 2016

You Do The Math - Black Prison Population

So I'm watching a Comedy Central “roast” of sorts, taped in a prison. The comedian dares to dis’ a bunch of hardened criminals. (Well… at least one of them said he might be violent.) And of course the captions on the bottom of the screen have to simultaneously scroll facts like you’re watching a CNN report on a Netanyahu and Arafat accord while multitasking the scroll describing a class action lawsuit on some pharmaceutical’s boner pill. (Which you would need after that watching the news.)

Back to the Comedy Central scroll. It said two things. The first was that 1 out of every 100 US residents are in prison. That means 3.2 million of the 320 million residents are in prison. Here's the 2014 US population from the Census Bureau, listed in the World Almanac.

About 319 million in the middle of 2014. It's certainly 320 million now, Jan 1st of 2016, since Obama has legal immigration over 400,000 a year, and isn't enforcing visas and borders.

 Notice I didn't say “citizens”? That's because when I worked Census 2000 we didn't care if you were legal or not. We were not ICE, we were trying to determine who and where to spend the tax dollars the IRS took from citizens.

 The scroll also said prison, not jail. So I looked up the stats in the World Almanac, and they get them from the DOJ. Yes, the Department of Justice. Obama’s DOJ. Eric Holder’s DOJ.

 That’s only 1.6 million in state and federal prison. But 1.6 million is exactly half of 3.2 million. Oooops!

 So, turn the page. The next stat from the UN Office On Drugs And Crime probably includes city and county jails as well as state and federal prisons. Will it double?

 Nope, it's only 2.2 million. That's 2/3rds of 3.2 million. Oooops again.

 Now back to the scroll. The next factoid says that the number of blacks in prison (and jail, I assume) equals the number of slaves at the start of the Civil War. Well, I've read from different sources that the US had between 4 million and 8 million slaves at that time. This website says 8 million.


 But the Census Bureau says 4 million.

Either way, that’s a LOT more than 2.2 million. Oooops again.

But, not ALL 2.2 million incarcerated are black, are they? There can't possibly be THAT much white-guilt (ooops, I meant to say institutional-racism) can there? Just how many blacks are in prison and jail nowadays? The World Almanac uses stats from the same UN, here it is.

 Obviously, 498 thousand is a lot less than the 4 million or 8 million slaves in 1862. That's under half a million out of the under 40 million blacks currently in the US. One out of eighty. That's a lot less than some other stats I’ve heard over the years, such as 1 out of 3.  Oooops again!

 Here’s the black population at 12.2% in 2010.
12.2% of 320 million is 39 million

 However, it is interesting that the above website on slavery says the US imported about 450 thousand slaves from Africa from 1500 to 1807 or so when it was made illegal. That's pretty close to the number of blacks currently in prison.

But, from 1790 to 1860 things were a whole lot different.  The population grew from 4 million to 31 million people.

When the US won its independence the total population was about the same as the current US prison and jail population.  Amazing, isn't it?

The entire US population at the start of the Civil War was about how many are in California today.

In fact, in 1860 we didn't all have bullets, paved roads, engines, motorcycles, cars, high-rises, electricity, telephones, refrigeration, indoor plumbing, clean water, planes, radio, computers, TV, satellites, printers, fax machines, copiers, the internet, space ships, satellites or this smart phone I can use to blog across the world in mere seconds. It's all relative, and if it’s a stat from Comedy Central, it's “relatively” accurate, in other words, inaccurate. Even Fox News is more accurate than that.

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