Posted on March 16, 2005

Study: 1 in 5 Young Black City Men in Jail

Ryan Davis, Baltimore Sun, Mar. 15

More than half of Baltimore’s African-American men in their 20s are either incarcerated or under criminal justice system supervision, according to a study being released today by a Washington-based research organization.

The Justice Policy Institute, which favors alternatives to prison, argues in its report that much of the money spent on incarceration would be better spent on drug treatment and community redevelopment. The report combines Maryland incarceration statistics with conclusions from selected sociological studies to raise questions about the efficacy of imprisonment in lowering crime.

“The basic idea is there are too many people locked up,” said Eric Lotke, co-author of the report and research director for the Justice Policy Institute. “We basically said, ‘We’ve got to tell people about this. We’ve got to connect these dots.’”

While many in law enforcement expressed dismay yesterday with the study’s statistical findings, some argued that detention remains a vital crime-fighting component.

According to the institute’s report, there are about 25,000 black men in Baltimore between the ages of 20 and 30, and 52 percent of them are incarcerated or on parole or probation. Statewide, nearly 10 percent of black men in their 20s are incarcerated in either jail or prison. In the city, the percentage is nearly 20 percent, the study found.