As if there weren’t enough disheartening stats about black men and the prison system, a new study finds that black men who are 29 and dropped out of high school have a 70 percent chance of winding up in prison.
The report from the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project found that black male dropouts born in 1975 are three times more likely to go to jail than their white counterparts. On top of this, a child born to a black father who dropped out of high school by the age of 14 has a 50 percent chance of having a father in prison. Meanwhile, less than 10 percent of white fathers without a diploma go to prison.
“We’ve seen an increase in students being suspended from school, which means they’re more likely to drop out,” Dennis Parker, director of the Racial Justice Program at the American Civil Liberties Union, told The Huffington Post. “It’s a very dramatic statement about the importance of keeping kids in schools and the consequences that occur when you don’t. I hope this statistic wakes us up to the problems that we face as a society.”
Parker said this problem also affects the pockets of average taxpayers, as the cost of incarcerating people of all races is high. In 2010, the United States spent about $80 billion to imprison people.
Obviously, just not having a high school diplomas doesn’t lead to imprisonment. As many studies have shown, black men face discrimination at every stage of the criminal justice process–from arrest to conviction to sentencing. Recently, author, professor and activist Cornel West spoke about such disparities at a rally against solitary confinement in New York.
“Solitary confinement is torture, and it’s a crime against humanity to lock folks up when 60 percent of them are there for soft drugs, and everybody knows 12 percent of those are on the chocolate side, 12 percent of those are on the vanilla side of flying high in the friendly skies every week taking drugs, but 65 percent of the convictions are chocolate,” reports Democracy Now quotes the scholar. “That just lets us know that the legacy of white supremacy is still operating in America.”