Many of America’s “Missing” Black Men Are in Prison

There are 1.5 million Black men “missing” from cities in America. A recent study by the New York Times shows that for every 100 Black women not in jail in America, there are 83 Black men. 600,000 of the people “missing” in this gap are incarcerated, while another 900,000 are estimated to have died prematurely (the study focused on people ages 25 – 54). 1.5 million equates to 1 in 6 Black men in this age range who have aren’t around – they’re dead, or hidden from the general population’s view.

The largest gap in the U.S. is in Ferguson, MO, where there are 40% more Black women than men.

In a Letter to the Editor, Marc Mauer points to inadequate welfare spending to explain both primary drivers of the “missing” population. He cites research demonstrating that welfare spending reduces the risk of incarceration (and, no surprise, premature death). Reducing the size and expense of the prison system is a cause that policy makers across the aisle have advocated; a significant proportion of the government savings that would result should be redirected to non-punitive crime reduction measures: welfare programs.

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