Wednesday, March 23, 2016
In recent decades, rich black kids have been more likely to go to prison than poor white kids
About 2.7% of the poorest white young people - those whose household wealth was in the poorest 10th of the distribution in 1985, when they were between 20 and 28 years old - ultimately went to prison. In the next 10th, 3.1% ultimately went to prison. The households of young people in both of these groups had more debts than assets. In other words, their wealth was negative. All the same, their chances of being imprisoned were far less than those of black youth from much more affluent circumstances. About 10% of affluent black youth in 1985 would eventually go to prison. Only the very wealthiest black youth - those whose household wealth in 1985 exceeded $69,000 in 2012 dollars - had a better chance of avoiding prison than the poorest white youth. Among black young people in this group, 2.4% were incarcerated. Hispanic participants who were less affluent in 1985 were more likely to be eventually incarcerated than their white peers with similar wealth, but less likely than black participants.