Chris Uggen put together a pie chart of U.S. arrests (FBI statistics 2007) in order to show that “only a small proportion of arrests involve violent crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault” (see it here):

In 2007, only 4% of arrests were for violent crimes; another 12% were for crimes like burglary, theft, and arson; drug offenses (including drunkenness and DUIs) accounted for 31% of arrests.

Uggen mentions that he shows this data, in part, to talk about the way in which arrests for drug offenses disrupt families and neighborhoods.  Low income neighborhoods are devastated by the transfer (to put it nicely) of huge numbers of adult males to jails and prisons.  Those men are not overwhelmingly committing violent crimes (as stereotype suggest), but are imprisoned because of the intensive policing of drug crimes in those neighborhoods.  In another post, we put up a table that showed how the “drug war” that started in the 1980s disproportionately affected blacks.

For more on crime and imprisonment, see this post on the ineffectiveness of racial profiling, this table on the percentage of children with parents in prison by race, and this table that compares incarceration rates across countries.

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