The chart above shows the decline of the overall incarceration of African Americans in the United States from its all time peak in 2008. As the chart shows the decrease began during the last year of the Bush administration and continued during the entire 8 years of the Obama administrations ending the beginning of 2017. Data during the Trump administration was not available at the time of this chart. Totals incarcerated on this chart includes state and federal prison populations as well as those being held in local county and municipal jails.

In 2017 there were 728,017 incarcerated African Americans, 475,900 in State and federal prisons and 250,100 in local, county and municipality jails.

NOTE: Those being held in local, county and municipal jails are not all convicted of crimes. Many are awaiting trial or to be bonded out after being arrested.


According to the US Department of Justice more African Americans have sentences for drug convictions (of more than one year) in state prisons than any other offense. Approximately 122,600 Blacks were under state jurisdiction for drugs accounting for 21.1% of all Black state inmates in December 2009.  This is higher than the 17.8% of all inmates incarcerated for drug offenses. Robbery was the cause for the second largest percentage of Black inmates with 18.9%, followed by property crimes which include burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and others at 15.2%. Murder convictions were responsible for 14.4% of African Americans in state prisons.

Black Prisoners by Offense 2009

Black State Federal Prison Incarceration 2000 to 2010The number of Black Men and Women in State and Federal prison declined by more than 20,000 between 2000 and 2010 while the total White Men and Women incarceration increased by 28,600. Hispanic incarceration experienced the largest gain increasing by 129,000 during the same time period.

Of the approximately 127,500 increase in Local Jail population between 2000 and 2010, only 26,900 were African American Men and Women which was much less than the 71,100 increase of Whites to Local Jails. The Hispanic population increase of 24,000 was the lowest during the same time period.

Black Local Jail Incarceration 2000 to 2010