The relationship between race and crime in the United States has been the subject of controversy and countless investigative reports from respected publications. At the center of those discussions are black crimes. On the one hand, their correlation with racial disparity has influenced legislation to be fairer to all ethnicities, which is still a work in progress. On the other, arguments were made regarding certain ethnicities’ predisposition to commit crimes. Whichever the case, the numbers suggest a racial imbalance in terms of arrests and victim counts.
However, proportions, rather than populations, paint a clearer picture of what’s really going on. More blacks than whites, for instance, were arrested for manslaughter in 2017. Conversely, the same goes for the startling percentage of African Americans stopped and frisked by the police in various cities.
In viewing the black crime statistics below, you will have an idea if reforms need to be made to further protect every sector of our communities.
Black Crime Statistics Table of Contents
- General Information on Black Crimes
- Violent and Serious Crimes Statistics
- Juvenile Arrests Statistics
- Black-on-Black Crimes Statistics
- Interracial Killings Facts
- Policing Black People Statistics
- Incarceration of Blacks Facts
- Drug Abuse Statistics
- Hate Crime Statistics
- Black Views on Justice and Safety
General Information on Black Crimes
Compared to Caucasians, African Americans come in smaller numbers with regard to arrest and victimization rates. But considering that there are nearly 200 million whites and only 42 million blacks in America, the population percentage of African Americans tagged as criminal offenders is much higher. There are also more black crime victims in terms of proportion.
The figures from 2019 onwards have yet to be released by the FBI and the Department of Justice, but historical data conveys a vast disparity in black and white arrests. And the trend is expected to continue as there is no sharp downturn in black arrest and victimization rates.
- In 2018, the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) listed down a total of 5,625,156 known criminal offenders, 53.9% of whom were white Americans, and 27.4% were black Americans.
- In that same year, the FBI arrested 3,480,625 people, 69.6% of whom were white, and 24.7% were black.
- In 2016, 27% of all arrested individuals in the US were composed of black Americans.
- Crispus Attucks, an African American, is the first person killed in the Boston Massacre and the very first casualty of the American Revolution in 1770.
Despite the massive disparity in population, blacks felons outnumber the whites in crimes like manslaughter, robbery, and illegal gambling. They also take up large percentages of both serious and petty crimes. Tighter law enforcement measures might be needed to improve the safety of communities, provided that the suspects are judged based on their acts and not their skin color.
- In 2017, 53.1% of those arrested for manslaughter were black.
- Based on a 2017 FBI crime report, 54% of the people arrested for robbery were black.
- In that same year, blacks made up 51.9% of those charged with illegal gambling.
- They also accounted for 33.5% of offenders charged with aggravated assault and 28.7% of rape arrests.
- In addition, blacks accounted for 29.8% of burglary arrests, and 43.9% of people caught carrying firearms.
- Out of the 429,000 sentenced black prisoners in 2015, 252,300 (58.8%) were involved in violent crimes, 65,000 (15.2%) were charged with property crimes, 61,600 (14.4%) were busted for drug-related incidents, 48,200 (11.2%) were nabbed for crimes against public order, and 1,900 (0.4%) were charged with other crimes.
- According to the FBI, in 2013, blacks accounted for 52.2% of all murder arrests, while whites made up 45.3%.
Black Victim Statistics
The number of black gun violence victims is alarming, which adds to the discussion of gun control in the US. Likewise, the high rate of African American murder victims should be addressed, perhaps by increasing the risks involved in committing a crime and better surveillance.
- According to the NIBRS, out of the 4,720,900 victims listed in 2018, 69.6% were white, and 21.6% were black.
- Between 2008 and 2018, 49.95% of murder victims in the US were black, and 46.25% were white.
- Between 2008 and 2018, 57.39% of gun violence victims were black, while 39.64% were white.
- Between 2007 and 2016, there were 6.5 million white American non-fatal assault victims, while black Americans accounted for 4.3 million.
Violent and Serious Crime Statistics
Violent crimes are defined as acts where a victim is threatened or harmed with the use of force. This includes murder, assault, rape, robbery, burglary, and harassment. Serious crimes, on the other hand, are completed or successful violent crimes.
While the stats suggest that Caucasians and African Americans figure in both classifications at proportionate rates, there is a progressive rise in the number of black violent crime victims from 2016 to 2018. This could be caused by a multitude of reasons, from poverty and unemployment to easy access to contrabands and firearms.
- Violent incidents involving white and black people in 2018 carry a similar percentage of their population in the US, 62%, and 12%, respectively.
- In 2018, there were 1,115,670 crimes committed by African-Americans, excluding Hispanic blacks and cases involving victims aged 12 and below.
- In 2018, there were 644,710 African-American victims of violent crimes, excluding Hispanic blacks and cases involving victims aged 12 and below.
- The percentage of violent crimes committed by black criminals is 1.8 times higher than that of the percentage of the black population in the US.
- The violent crimes committed against black people increased from 389,340 in 2017 to 416,850 in 2018.
- Out of the 4,636,730 serious crimes committed in 2018, 732,020 were committed by African Americans.
- The number of serious crimes committed by blacks increased from 639,140 in 2017 to 732,020 in 2018.
- There was a 2:1 ratio between black violent crime offenders and black victims in 2018.
Source: US Department of Justice
Juvenile Arrests Statistics
A disparity between black and white prisoners is more pronounced when looking at the rate of juvenile arrests. Similar to the adults, there were more black teens than white teens busted for manslaughter, robbery, and illegal gambling in 2018. Moreover, their arrest rates for serious crimes are significantly higher than those of their adult counterparts.
Besides alleviating poverty and offering more jobs to the public, local governments should find ways to make education more accessible. The promise of a bright future could lead parents to dissuade kids from joining gangs and participating in illicit affairs at an early age. Schools, on the other hand, would benefit from better security measures, with mass shootings being a huge concern in the country.
- In 2018, young black males accounted for 35% of youth arrests in the US, even though they only represent 15% of all US children.
- In 2017, the FBI recorded a total of 625,099 arrests of people below 18, which included 218,048 (34.9%) blacks and 385,298 (61.6%) whites.
- Black minors represented 60.6% of the people below 18 arrested for manslaughter in 2017.
- 66.6% of all juvenile arrests for robbery involved blacks.
- In 2017, a majority of the youths nabbed for possessing stolen property (56.7%), prostitution (52.5%), illegal gambling (76.4%), and vehicle theft (51.5%) were black.
- 16,167 black youths were also arrested for drug abuse violations in 2017.
- Furthermore, black youths accounted for 31% of youths arrested for rape, 42.5% for aggravated assault, 41% for burglary, and 50.9% for arson as a violent crime.
- In the shootings, including school shootings, between 1982 and February 2020, 64 white shooters and 20 black shooters were arrested.
Blacks-on-Black Crimes Statistics
Rather than racial bias, two bigger factors in the staggering rates of black-on-black violence have surfaced, familiarity and proximity. According to the FBI’s annual crime report in 2018, most murder victims are acquaintances of the suspects in cases where the relationship between both parties was identified. Crimes committed by friends and family also exceed those perpetrated by strangers.
From a risk management standpoint, there would be less of a struggle, and the threat level is more or less calculated in harming people one is familiar with. This doesn’t mean that strangers pose less of a threat compared to friends and peers, which is certainly not the case. But what the data really conveys is for us to be more vigilant, especially in reading social cues.
- According to the 2018 National Crime Victimization Survey, 70.3% of the violent incidents suffered by black victims were committed by black offenders.
- Of the 6,000 homicide cases in 2015 where the FBI had known the ethnicity of the victim and the killer, 2,380 were black victims accosted by black killers. 2,574, on the other hand, were whites killed by whites.
- This represents an 8% increase from 2014.
- The proportion of black-on-black homicides to the number of black people killed was at 89.3% in 2015, the first time since the dawn of the 21st century that the rate fell below 90%.
Interracial Killings Facts
The figures suggest that instances of same ethnicity killings are more prevalent than interracial homicide. However, 12% of 6000 homicide cases is still a significant amount and should be addressed accordingly. Most of the numbers listed below reflect only cases in which the FBI was able to identify the ethnicity of the victim and the killer. Should the complete racial information in other homicide cases surface, the numbers would certainly be higher.
Whether the acts were racially motivated or if ethnicity was inconsequential to the killings, interracial homicide deserves special attention from the authorities.
- According to the 2018 National Crime Victimization Survey, 15.3% of the violent incidents suffered by whites were committed by blacks.
- 7.9% of the violent incidents suffered by Hispanics were committed by blacks.
- 29.7% of the violent crimes suffered by blacks were committed by other races, 10.6% of which were by whites.
- In 2015, the FBI reported 500 homicide cases involving blacks killing whites and 229 cases involving whites killing blacks.
- Homicides involving blacks killing whites increased progressively from 2013 to 2015.
- There was an even larger increase, however, on the rate of homicides involving whites killing blacks from 2013 to 2015.
- Of the 6,000 homicides reported in 2015, in which the police had information on the ethnicity of both the victim and the killer, 12% involved blacks killing whites and whites killing blacks.
- In 2015, 8.6% of black homicide victims were killed by whites, and 15.8% of white homicide victims were killed by blacks.
- 13,455 homicide cases where the FBI had information on only the victim’s ethnicity were submitted in 2015. 7,039 (52.3%) involved black victims while 5,854 (43.5%) were white.
Policing Black People Statistics
Policing in the US is every bit as controversial as the crimes that the authorities have sworn to eradicate. The preferential treatment against blacks and other people of color in favor of whites is glaring and has been acknowledged in numerous reports from the government sector. Many of the African Americans stopped by the police have turned out to be innocent. But this has not dissuaded the authorities from detaining them more than any other race in America. And the numbers aren’t close.
With this, the public’s perception of the police is anything but encouraging. This goes for the majority of black and white citizens. Even black officers share the same opinion, albeit discreetly.
- In New York City, between 2001 and 2013, blacks and Hispanics made up 82% of those arrested for misdemeanors through Broken Windows Policing and 81% of those summoned for violating New York City’s administrative code.
- Eight out of 10 black adults believe that blacks are treated less fairly by the police than whites.
- Six out of 10 white adults share the same view.
- In a 2016 survey, only 33% of black adults think that the police use the amount of force commensurate to the situation.
- Only 35% of black adults say that the police treat racial groups fairly.
- Only 31% of black adults think police officers are held liable for their actions when abuses occur.
- According to a 2016 survey, 57% of black police officers believe that the deaths of black people at the hands of the police point to a larger concern rather than being isolated cases.
- Nearly 7 out of 10 black officers think that the protests from those deaths stem from people wanting to hold the police accountable for their actions.
- In Ferguson, from 2012 – 2014, blacks accounted for 93% of police arrests, and 85% of traffic stops. Blacks make up 67% of the city’s population.
Stop and Frisk Statistics
Based on the numbers, the police have tagged black people as possible threats to society while generally keeping whites from being inconvenienced by the “Stop and Frisk” policy. The fact that African Americans make up a vast majority of those stopped and frisked by the police underscores the inherent bias not just in policing, but also, in part, the criminal justice system.
- The NYPD reported 13,459 police stops in 2019, in accordance with New York City’s stop-and-frisk policy. 7,981 (59%) of the detainees were black, and 1,215 (9%) were white.
- Ever since 2003—a year after the stop-and-frisk policy’s inception—until 2019, the rate of blacks detained stayed consistently above 50%. Whites, on the other hand, never went beyond 12%.
- Black neighborhoods were subjected to 70% more frisks compared to non-black areas, even though the investigations found fewer amounts of contrabands.
- When Philadelphia’s local government addressed the seeming racial disparity through police training, the number of problematic stops dropped by 72%.
- According to a 2016 report of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, blacks accounted for 42% of non-consensual searches.
- A 2016 report in Chicago states that black and Latino drivers were four times more likely to be stopped by the police compared to their white counterparts.
Source: NYCLU 2019
Source: NYCLU 2019
Incarceration of Blacks Facts
Another area of great racial disparity is imprisonment, especially of juveniles. People of color account for a majority of the prisoner population in the US despite having a smaller collective population than Caucasians. If they are incarcerated at the same rate as whites are, the number of inmates would drastically decline.
This poses the question if people of color live in more violent communities or if the local brand of justice is inherently selective. Experts have long been debating this matter.
- Around 2.5% of the US black male population was in prison by the end of 2016.
- 2,417 per 100,000 US black male residents were incarcerated by the end of 2016.
- There were 467,000 sentenced black male prisoners and 20,400 black female prisoners in the US in 2016. These figures exclude blacks with Hispanic origins and those with sentences that are one year or less.
- In 2015, 59% of black prisoners sentenced to more than a year in prison were detained for a violent crime.
- 18-19-year-old black males are 11.8 times more likely to be incarcerated than white males belonging to the same age group.
- Black males 65 years and above are 4.4 times more likely to be incarcerated than white males belonging to the same age group.
- In 2016, 34% of black inmates were doing time for public order offenses.
- While blacks and Hispanics comprise about 32% of the US population, they accounted for 56% of the US prison population in 2015.
- Blacks are five times more likely to be incarcerated than whites.
- If blacks and Hispanics share the same incarceration rate of whites, the prison population will decrease by 40%.
- As of 2001, one in three black males born in the said year would likely face a prison sentence in his lifetime.
- As of 2016, 48.3% of prisoners serving life and virtual life sentences are black.
- The number of whites and blacks charged with prison sentences of over 1 year declined in 2016.
- 13% of the inmates belonging to the 18 to 24 age group are black.
Source: US Department of Justice
Source: US Department of Justice
Black Women in Prison
While there are far fewer black women than men in prison, the disparity in the imprisonment rates between black and white women is striking. And the gap is even wider if we are to zone in on just juvenile incarceration.
- There were more white women (49,000 inmates) in prison than black women (20,400) and Hispanic women (19,300) at the end of 2016.
- However, the imprisonment rate of black females (97/100,000) is nearly 50% higher than that of their white counterparts (49/100,000).
- 18-19-year-old black females are 3.1 times more likely to be incarcerated than white females belonging to the same age group.
Drug Abuse Statistics
America’s war on drugs has led to the arrest of numerous users and dealers belonging to all ethnicities. A concern that stands out is the disparity between arrests and the number of known users. It makes one wonder how over a million drug users can roam free and what metrics are applied on the streets to qualify for a drug-related arrest.
Another glaring statistic is the incarceration rate of blacks in relation to illegal drugs compared to whites. This brings forth the need to delve into the nature of drug cases involving whites and blacks further. There is a possibility that the communities within which both races reside play as big a factor in the crimes as ethnicity does.
- According to the FBI, in 2017, 342,513 black Americans were busted for drug abuse violations, making up 27.1% of all those arrested.
- According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, around 4 million African Americans were using illegal substances in December of that same year.
- Despite using illegal drugs at similar rates, blacks are six times more likely to face imprisonment than whites.
- More than one in four people busted for drug-related crimes in 2015 were black.
- In an ALU report, it was found that blacks were 3.7 times more likely to be charged with marijuana possession than whites even though the usage rates of both ethnicities are comparable.
Hate Crime Statistics
The FBI defines a hate crime as a criminal offense motivated by bias, which includes those that are racially motivated. Even though society has thoroughly evolved from the prejudiced 60s era, racism is still present in this day and age. And the high number of hate crimes ascertains this fact.
To counter this, the Bureau has centered the efforts of its civil service program to crack down on hate crimes and its causes. Besides conducting investigations, it holds outreach programs that inform communities about their civil rights and the laws that protect them. Training programs to combat hate crimes are also offered to authorities and communities.
- According to the FBI in 2018, 59.6% of single-bias hate crimes were motivated by bias against race/ethnicity/ancestry.
- In 2018, 53.6% of hate crime offenders were white, while 24% were black.
- Out of the 6,266 reported offenders of hate crimes motivated by race in 2018, 3,359 were white while 1,506 were black.
- Of the 5,155 victims of single-bias hate crimes involving race in 2018, 2,426 (47.1%) were victims of anti-black bias, while 1,038 (20.1) were victims of anti-white bias.
- Out of the 5,556 hate crimes against persons, 46% came in the form of intimidation, 34% were simple assault, 18.4% were aggravated assault, and 0.8% resulted in rape or murder.
Black Views on the Justice and Safety
Due to the racial disparity in policing, sentencing, and incarceration, many people have cast doubts on the impartiality of the country’s criminal justice system. In fact, a majority of Caucasians think that local justice as a whole is skewed against African Americans. Blacks were expectedly downcast on the state of race relations, and in the way authorities treated them.
If we delve deeper into the stats, the views of African Americans are reflective of the dangers that their communities pose. For them to acknowledge acts like violent crimes and gun violence as serious national concerns, criminal elements are likely to be more pervasive in their communities.
- According to the Pew Research Center in 2018, 87% of black adults believe that blacks are less favored by the criminal justice system compared to whites.
- The same view is shared by 61% of white adults.
- 79% of black adults think that the unfair treatment of the criminal justice system of ethnic minorities is a huge concern in the US.
- 32% of white adults think the same way.
- 82% of blacks view gun violence as a serious problem in the country, while only 47% of whites share the same opinion.
- 75% of blacks think that violent crime is a big problem in the country; only 46% of whites agree with this.
- 38% of blacks believe that crime is a serious concern in their local community as opposed to only 13% thinking the same way.
- A Pew Research Center survey in 2017 reported that blacks are twice as likely to admit that they live in a dangerous neighborhood compared to whites.
- 71% of black Americans believe that race relations in the country aren’t good.
- 84% of blacks believe that their history of slavery has placed them at a disadvantage in society, while 78% think that the country has failed to do enough to give them equal rights with whites.
Views on the Death Penalty
The negative view of blacks on the criminal justice system extends to the death penalty. After all, if the authorities are quick to detain and arrest African American suspects, they would likely believe that death sentences are more easily meted out to them. This line of thought has led a majority of blacks to oppose the death penalty.
- According to a 2015 survey, 52% of black Americans do not support the death penalty, while 74% believe that capital punishment puts innocent people at risk.
- 77% of blacks think that minorities are more likely to be meted with a death sentence.
- A majority of black (75%) and white people (60%) think that capital punishment does not effectively deter crime.
- 46% of blacks think that capital punishment is morally justified.
Black Crimes Should be Better Addressed
Racial disparity is evident on most counts when one looks at incarceration rates, arrests, victims, and police detainments, among others. Blacks, on paper, really do figure more in crimes if we slice America’s population down to ethnic proportion. The fact that 2.5% of the entire black male population in America is behind bars speaks volumes of their involvement in crimes.
However, this does not necessarily mean that African Americans are the most threatening ethnicity on American shores. Based on the policing numbers, many of them are detained and arrested even if they didn’t break any law. Just search for these cases online, and you would find dozens, if not hundreds, of documented cases on paper and video.
Rather than focus on the color of one’s skin, the authorities are better off surveilling the communities where the perpetrators of violent crimes came from. They would likely unearth systemic, instead of racial, concerns plaguing the locales. Factors like poverty, unemployment, limited access to basic needs and education, and astronomic healthcare expenses are known to influence crime. Those have nothing to do with one being born to black parents.
- Criminal Victimization, 2018
- Race in America 2019
- From police to parole, black and white Americans differ wildly in their views of the criminal justice system
- Criminal Justice Fact Sheet
- 2015 National Survey of Drug Use and Health
- Race and Homicide in America, by the numbers
- Crispus Attucks American Leader
- Stop-And-Frisk Data
- Prisoners in 2016
- Addressing Racial Disparities in Incarceration
- 2016 Crime in the United States
- Easy Access to Juvenile Populations
- 2015 Crime in the United States
- The War on Marijuana in Black and White
- Study: High rates of stop-and-frisk even in Philly’s lowest-crime back areas
- Trends in Misdemeanor Arrests in New York
- Still Life: America’s Increasing Use of Life and Long Term Sentences
- 2018 Hate Crime Statistics Victims
- 2018 Hate Crime Statistics Offenders
- 2018 Hate Crime Statistics Known Offenders
- 2018 Hate Crime Statistics Incidents, Offenses, Victims, and Known Offenders
- 2018 Hate Crime Statistics Incidents and Offenses
- 2018 Hate Crime Statistics Hate Crime Summary
- Summary of
- NIBRS Victims
- Crime in the United States 2013 Arrests
- WISQARS Nonfatal Injury Reports, 2000 – 2018
- 2017 Crime in the United States Table 43
- The 12 key highlights from the DOJ’s scathing Ferguson report
- Report of The Blue Ribbon Panel on Transparency, Accountability, and Fairness in Law Enforcement
- Restoring Trust between the Chicago Police and the Communities They Serve
- Number of mass shootings in the United States between 1982 and February 2020, by shooter’s race and ethnicity.
- Murder Circumstances by Relationship, 2018
- Hate Crimes