GET THE FACTS: Crime in America by Race

Crime in America is an important factor in our society. All law enforcement agencies are involved in both the prevention, apprehension and arrest of those suspected of a crime. The Judicial system is responsible to determine each individuals guilt or innocence for a given crime. In America we have equal justice under the law.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau here is the racial breakdown of America:

Race and Hispanic Origin
White alone, percent

76.3%

Black or African American alone, percent(a)

13.4%

American Indian and Alaska Native alone, percent(a)

1.3%

Asian alone, percent(a)

5.9%

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone, percent(a)

0.2%

Two or More Races, percent

2.8%

Hispanic or Latino, percent(b)

18.5%

White alone, not Hispanic or Latino, percent

60.1%

The U.S. Department of Justice chart below shows the number of individuals arrested for criminal offences by category and race. In any discussion of crime and racial issues it is important to get the facts right.

DOJ data on arrests by race:

  • 69% are white.
  • 27% are black.
  • 2% are American Indian.
  • 1.4% are Asian.

DOJ data on violent crime arrests by race:

  • 58% are white
  • 37.8% are black
  • 2% are American Indian
  • 1.9% are Asian

Violent Crime Index includes murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

Property Crime Index includes, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.

NA: Beginning in 2013, the FBI broadened the definition of rape, removing the phrase “forcible” from the offense name and description. The new definition of rape is: Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim. The new definition includes the NIBRS offenses of rape, sodomy, and sexual assault with an object.

Law enforcement agencies may submit data on rape arrests based on either the new or legacy definition of rape. Due to differences in agency reporting practices, national estimates for the offenses of “rape” and “sex offenses” are not available after 2012. Additionally, estimates for the Violent Crime Index (which included “forcible rape”) are not shown after 2012 as this category is no longer compatible with prior years.

* The “violent crimes” category includes the offenses of murder, robbery, and aggravated assault and is presented as an alternative to the Violent Crime Index, which is not available as a result of the change to the definition of rape in 2013. In any given year prior to the change in the rape definition, these three offenses accounted for more than 95% of arrests for Violent Crime Index offenses.


Internet citation: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Estimated number of arrests by offense and race, 2018. Available: https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/crime/ucr.asp?table_in=2. Released on October 31, 2019.

Data source: Arrest estimates for 1980-2014 developed by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and disseminated through “Arrest Data Analysis Tool.” Online. Available from the BJS website.

Arrest estimates for 2015 through 2018 developed by the National Center for Juvenile Justice based on data published in the FBI’s Crime in the United States reports. These are preliminary estimates that will be updated upon release of final estimates on the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Arrest Data Analysis Tool.

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