Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Where Are The Black Men?

Recently John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Jesse Jackson have spoken out about the grave situation of black men in prison. These statements were not only untrue, but in my opinion, insulting to the black community.

Reason Magazine give us this:

"The idea that we can keep incarcerating and keep incarcerating -- pretty soon we're not going to have a young African-American male population in America. They're all going to be in prison or dead. One of the two."--John Edwards, MTV political forum, September 27, 2007

"We have more work to do when more young black men languish in prison than attend colleges and universities across America." --Barrack Obama, NAACP forum, July 12, 2007.

Regarding Obama's claim, The WashingtonPost factchecker begs to differ: (emphasis mine)

According to 2005 Census Bureau statistics, the male African-American population of the United States aged between 18 and 24 numbered 1,896,000. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 106,000 African-Americans in this age group were in federal or state prisons at the end of 2005. See table 10 of this report. If you add the numbers in local jail (measured in mid-2006), you arrive at a grand total of 193,000 incarcerated young Black males, or slightly over 10 percent.
According to the same census data, 530,000 of these African-American males, or twenty eight percent, were enrolled in colleges or universities (including two-year-colleges) in 2005. That is five times the number of young black men in federal and state prisons and two and a half times the total number incarcerated. If you expanded the age group to include African-American males up to thirty or thirty five, the college attendees would still outnumber the prisoners.

So Edward's claim of a future of prison for blacks is simply not true, Will they end up dead? The factchecker once again begs to differ:

As for violent deaths, we asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a list of the ten leading causes of death for black males, aged 18 to 24, in 2004. The top three causes of death in this age group were (1) homicide (2,140 deaths), unintentional injury (948 deaths), and suicide (332 deaths). Deaths from HIV AIDS ranked sixth (67 deaths.) If we add the homicide, suicide, and HIV deaths together, we get 2,539 deaths. That is a combined death rate from violent causes or AIDS of around 0.13 percent for this segment of the population. Hardly an epidemic.