Introducing our profile of Native incarceration in the U.S.
New page provides data and visualizations about the overrepresentation of Native people in the criminal legal system.
by Emily Widra, February 14, 2023
Our 50 state profiles, plus one for D.C. and another for the nation as a whole, draw on graphs made from reports issued as part of our National Incarceration Briefing Series. Adding to this body of work, we’ve created a profile of Native incarceration in the United States to illuminate what data exists about the mass incarceration of Native people.
In the United States, Native people1 are vastly overrepresented in the criminal legal system. Native people are incarcerated in state and federal prisons at a rate of 763 per 100,000 people. This is double the national rate (350 per 100,000) and more than four times higher than the state and federal prison incarceration rate of white people (181 per 100,000). These disparities exist in jails as well, with Native people being detained in local jails at a rate of 316 per 100,000. Nationally, the incarceration rate in local jails is 192 per 100,000, and for white people, the jail incarceration rate is 157 per 100,000.
Even when government data on incarceration are disaggregated by race, the way that Native incarcerated people are counted is inconsistent and often underreports their numbers, because people reporting two or more races are lumped into various categories depending on who is publishing the data. In publishing this profile of Native incarceration, we are hoping to make the existing information more accessible, while also acknowledging the layers of systemic oppression impacting Native people in the criminal legal system.
We are discussing the impact of the criminal legal system on people identified by the Census Bureau as “American Indian/Alaska Native.” ↩