But crime rates do not explain the sudden and dramatic mass incarceration of African Americans during the past 30 years. Crime rates have fluctuated over the past few decades -- and currently are at historical lows -- but imprisonment rates have soared. Quintupled. And the vast majority of that increase is due to the War on Drugs, a war waged almost exclusively in poor communities of color, even though studies consistently show that people of all colors use and sell illegal drugs at remarkably similar rates. In fact, some studies indicate that white youth are significantly more likely to engage in illegal drug dealing than black youth.The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander (Amazon)
That is not what you would guess, though, when entering our nation's prisons and jails, which are overflowing with black and brown drug offenders.