Infographic: America’s criminal justice system is far from colorblind

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America’s criminal justice system, in theory, is supposed to be colorblind.

But the truth is that the system is overwhelmingly biased against people of color, especially African-Americans.

In a new infographic from, statistics show that blacks make up more than 37 percent of all prison inmates, while only representing 12.6 percent of the overall population.

Overall, one in three black men will face imprisonment at one time in their lives, compared to a 4 in 17 chance if the individual is white. For women, the odds are 1 in 18 for blacks, compared to 1 in 111 for white women.

If a black person kills a white person, the numbers show they are treated much harsher than if the roles were reversed.

Black on white killings are 22 times more likely to result in a death sentence, compared to white on black homicides—and although the percentage of blacks and whites on death row are roughly equal (42 percent black to 43 percent white) the absolute numbers are overwhelmingly lopsided.

This bias continues not only with adult males, but also starting with children — 44 percent of youths detained by police are African American, and they make up 26 percent of juvenile arrests.  When a case goes to state prisons, 58 percent of the offenders are black.

In Florida, when the charge is marijuana possession, blacks are arrested for pot crimes as a rate of nearly 30 percent higher than the African American population.

Although the numbers seem bleak, studies also show a few encouraging signs, such as an overall decline in the rate of incarceration in federal and state prisons from 2000 to 2009 (9.8 percent for black men and 30.7 percent for black women), as well as a reduction in the black/white incarceration ratio of nearly 17 percent.

Here is the complete infographic from


Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.