WASHINGTON — More than three times as many black people live in prison cells as in college dorms, the government said in a report to be released today.
The ratio is only slightly better for Hispanics, at 2.7 inmates for every Latino in college housing. Among non-Hispanic whites, more than twice as many live in college housing as in prison or jail.
The numbers, driven by men, do not include college students who live off campus. Previously released census data show that black and Hispanic college students — commuters and those in dorms — far outnumber black and Hispanic prison inmates.
Nevertheless, civil rights advocates said it is startling that blacks and Hispanics are more likely to live in prison cells than in college dorms.
“It’s one of the great social and economic tragedies of our time,” said Marc Morial, president and CEO of the Urban League. “It points to the signature failure in our education system and how we’ve been raising our children.”
The Census Bureau released 2006 data today on the social, racial and economic characteristics of people living in adult correctional facilities, college housing and nursing homes. It is the first in-depth look at people living in “group quarters” since the 1980 census. It shows, for example, that nursing homes had much older residents in 2006 than in 1980.
The data show big increases in black and Hispanic inmates occurred since 1980. In 1980, the number of blacks living in college dorms was roughly equal to the number in prison. Among Hispanics, those in dorms outnumbered those in prison in 1980.
Nearly 40 percent of inmates lack a high school diploma or equivalent, according to census data.