The percentage of African American women versus White women behind bars dropped nearly in half between 2000 and 2009, according to a report by The Sentencing Project.

"The good news in this report is that [though these are] problems that many people viewed as seemingly intractable, it appears that we can make progress as a society on those issues," said Marc Mauer, Executive Director of The Sentencing Project.

From the study:

In 2000 Black women were incarcerated in state and federal prisons at six times the rate of White women. By 2009 that ratio had declined by 53% . . . This shift was a result of both declining incarceration of African American women and rising incarceration of White women. The disparity between Hispanic and non Hispanic White women declined by 16.7% during this period.

The findings are published in the report "The Changing Racial Dynamics of Women’s Incarceration," which is based on data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.