Study Debunks Popular Theory that Incarceration Leads to Safer Communities for Black Americans

Historically, incarceration has been thought to reduce community violence as it takes individuals convicted of crimes off the street. However, a new Boston University study has challenged this assumption and found mass incarceration among Black communities results in increased gun violence in those same communities.

For their study, the authors reviewed data regarding firearm homicides in Chicago between 2001 and 2019. The findings revealed that communities with higher incarceration rates for Black Americans had a significantly increased rate of gun violence. This pattern was not found among White or Hispanic Americans, whose incarceration rates had no affect on community gun violence.

The authors believe their findings may be explained by incarceration removing caregivers from family homes, therefore disrupting family dynamics and creating an unstable environment that can worsen community violence. They suggest a need for implementing policies specifically targeting racial disparities in incarceration rates, as well as provide support for single-parent households who are affected by incarceration.

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