Blue Telusma Writer theGrio.com
A new study has confirmed what many have suspected for generations: In this country, the darker your complexion, the more likely you are to end up in prison.
According to Quartz, almost three percent of the American population is in prison, which roughly works out to be almost 700 people incarcerated for every 100,000 residents. As the country with the highest rate of incarcerated people in the world, a third of that population is Black.
The report states that these statistics are “wildly disproportionate given that Black people account for only 12% of the total US population,” further noting that on average Black Americans find themselves in state prisons more than five times the rate of their white counterparts.
In states like Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont, and Wisconsin Black people are actually 10 times more likely to be in prison than white people.
This new study authored by Harvard sociology professor, Ellis Monk, breaks down how prejudice in the American judicial system isn’t just based on being Black, but also shows discrimination based on how Black you appear based on complexion.
Monk was able to compile data the illustrates that, “a person’s lifetime chance of having been arrested is directly proportional with the darkness of their skin.”
The study is based on data collected in a landmark national survey conducted between 2001 and 2003. Despite the fact that it’s been 15 years since the survey took place, the scope and depth of the data collected make it an invaluable resource for analysis.
The interviewers who administered the survey had the foresight to rate the skin color of the people they spoke to, from very light to very dark, which allowed Monk to clearly track associations between the color of one’s skin and their negative encounters with the criminal justice system.
In summation, Monk found that overall African Americans have a 36% chance of going to jail at some point in their lifetimes, but dark-skinned Black people surpass that with a 66% chance of having the same fate.
Harvard research shows that dark complexioned Blacks are have a higher likelihood of being imprisoned and explores why. (Patrick Breen/The Arizona Republic via AP, File)