A new study by researchers at Duke University and The New School examines the relationship between wealth and incarceration. The study found that, as would be expected, wealthier people of all races were less likely to be incarcerated than members of their racial group with lower levels of wealth. But at all levels of wealth, Blacks were more likely than Whites to spend time in jail.
The greater likelihood of incarceration for people of similar levels of wealth was particularly evident for Black men compared to White men. But Black women with higher levels of wealth had low levels of incarceration that approach the incarceration levels of White women with similar levels of wealth.
Also, the study found that Blacks who had spent time in jail in the past possessed less wealth than Whites who had spent similar time behind bars.
William D. Darity, the Samuel DuBois Cook Professor Public Policy, African and African American Studies, and Economics at Duke University and a co-author of the study, told Science News that “to the best of my knowledge, this is the first study to look at the impact of prior wealth on the odds of incarceration and to demonstrate that wealth does not provide the same degree of insulation from imprisonment for Black and Hispanic males as it does for White males.”
The article, “Race, Wealth and Incarceration: Results from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth,” was published in the journal Race and Social Problems. It may be downloaded by clicking here.