Number of Blacks Jailed for Drugs Declines
But number of white inmates increases
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2009 5:52 PM CDT
A Guantanamo detainee peers through his hands from inside his cell at the Camp Echo detention facility.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – A profound shift may be under way in the racial makeup of the nation's prison population, the Washington Post reports. For the first time in 20 years, the number of blacks imprisoned for drug offenses is falling sharply while the number of whites is rising, the Washington Post reports. One possible reason for the shift: A falloff in the use of crack cocaine and a rise in the use of crystal meth.

The number of blacks in state prisons for drug crimes fell from 145,000 in 1999 to 113,500 in 2005, says the Sentencing Project. In the same period, the number of whites imprisoned for drugs rose from 50,700 to 72,300. The rise of crystal meth, which has mostly white users, may not tell the whole story. "It's also hard to imagine that (drug courts) are not having some effect," said the director of the Sentencing Project. "Most drug courts are in urban areas where African Americans live."