Divided Justice: Trends in Black and White Jail Incarceration 1990-2013

Vera Institute of Justice LogoThis report from the Vera Institute of Justice examines racial disparities in local jails—defined as county or municipal detention facilities that primarily hold people arrested but not yet convicted of a crime—which has not been widely studied. Vera has sought to contribute to this emerging field of inquiry by conducting a comprehensive analysis of jail population trends by race using its Incarceration Trends data tool, which incorporates jail data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the most complete national dataset on jails available to date. To prompt discussion and further action, the report proposes a remedy to fill current gaps in knowledge, such as a deliberate collection of race and ethnicity data related to jail incarceration, much of which is presently non-existent. Such information will be crucial in understanding why recent jail population patterns are occurring in an era of widespread criminal justice reform.