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Incarceration Gap Between Blacks and Whites Increases

During last month’s 50th anniversary celebration of Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech, much attention was focused on the range of areas where gaps between Whites and Blacks had widened, narrowed or stayed the same. One area where the Black-White gap has widened is incarceration.

Several speakers at the anniversary took note of this, including former President Jimmy Carter who said “I think we all know how Dr. King would have reacted” to the large numbers of African-American men in prison.

Black men were more than six times as likely as White men to be incarcerated in federal and state prisons, and local jails in 2010, the last year complete data are available, according to a Pew Research Center analysis. That is an increase from 1960, when Black men were five times as likely as Whites to be incarcerated.

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