Race, Prosecution & Prison

According to the Federal Household Survey, "most current illicit drug users are white. There were an estimated 9.9 million whites (72% of all users), 2.0 million blacks (15%), and 1.4 million Hispanics (10%) who were current illicit drug users in 1998." And yet, African-Americans constitute 36.8% of those arrested for drug violations, and over 42% of those in federal prisons for drug violations. African-Americans comprise nearly 58% of those in state prisons for drug felonies; Hispanics account for 20.7%.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse: Summary Report 1998 (Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 1999), p. 13; Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics 1998 (Washington DC: US Department of Justice, August 1999), p. 343, Table 4.10, p. 435, Table 5.48, and p. 505, Table 6.52; Beck, Allen J., Ph.D. and Mumola, Christopher J., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 1998 (Washington DC: US Department of Justice, August 1999), p. 10, Table 16; Beck, Allen J., PhD, and Paige M. Harrison, US Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, August 2001), p. 11, Table 16.

The United States incarcerates African-American men at a rate that is approximately four times the rate of incarceration of men of color in South Africa.
Source: Craig Haney, Ph.D., and Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D., "The Past and Future of U.S. Prison Policy: Twenty-five Years After the Stanford Prison Experiment," American Psychologist, Vol. 53, No. 7 (July 1998), p. 714.

One in three African-American men between the ages of 20 and 29 is under correctional supervision or control.
Source: Mauer, M. & Huling, T., Young Black Americans and the Criminal Justice System: Five Years Later (Washington DC: The Sentencing Project, 1995).

"Most drug offenders are white. Five times as many whites use drugs as blacks. Yet blacks comprise the great majority of drug offenders sent to prison. The solution to this racial inequity is not to incarcerate more whites, but to reduce the use of prison for low-level drug offenders and to increase the availability of substance abuse treatment."
Source: Human Rights Watch, Racial Disparities in the War on Drugs (Washington, DC: Human Rights Watch, 2000), from their website at http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/drugs/war/key-facts.htm.