The percentage of African American women versus white women behind bars dropped nearly in half between 2000 and 2009, according to a report by The Sentencing Project.
"The good news in this report is that [though these are] problems that many people viewed as seemingly intractable, it appears that we can make progress as a society on those issues," said Marc Mauer, Executive Director of The Sentencing Project.
From the study:
In 2000 black women were incarcerated in state and federal prisons at six times the rate of white women. By 2009 that ratio had declined by 53% . . . This shift was a result of both declining incarceration of African American women and rising incarceration of white women. The disparity between Hispanic and non Hispanic white women declined by 16.7% during this period.
The findings are published in the report "The Changing Racial Dynamics of Women’s Incarceration," which is based on data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Mauer attributes the shift to changes on both sides of the equation. The study found reduced incarceration and arrests among African American women who committed drug offenses and violent crimes. At the same time, the project found rising imprisonment of white women for similar misconduct.
"The rates are far too high for any society, but nonetheless the numbers are going in the right direction," Mauer added.
Women now constitute seven percent of the prison population, according to the study.
Read the entire report, here.