Texas Redefines Mass Incarceration

Mass incarceration is a notorious issue that plagues the US government at a continuous rate. There is little to no resolve regarding the incarcerated population throughout the United States. Texas, specifically, has a diverse population and large demographic scale, resulting in a wide splay of incarcerated individuals among the African American, White, and Hispanic ethnic groups.

Incarceration Rates per County

County Population

Figure 1: Incarceration Rates per County – This shows the incarceration rates per county in the state of Texas.

rates per county

The image above displays the incarceration rates per population within Texan counties. This includes all recorded crime that has occurred within the various counties of Texas and it also compares those rates with the size of the county in relation to the other counties. This comparison emphasizes the correlation between population size/county size and the incarceration rates per county; the higher the population size, the greater the rate of crime happenings. Note that Harris county holds positions in both the largest county in Texas, and has the highest crime rate in Texas. Harris county’s demographics show that there is a steep incline towards the predominately black population creating stiff racial disparities within the county.

Per County Racial Disparities

Figure 2: Racial Disparities per County – This shows the breakdown of the three ethnic groups (Hispanic, Whites, Blacks) of incarcerated individuals per county. Please refer to the interactive link above to see details regarding each breakdown.

racial disparities

Incarceration Rates based on Gender

As shown above, there is a large population of incarcerated black males in Harris County, standing at 12,500 records per 100,000 persons for just black incarcerated individuals alone. Hispanics have a recorded number of 7,108 reported criminal individuals, and the white population stands at 4,302 recorded crimes in Harris County. There is a significant racial disparity occurring in this county, among others, further indicating that the demographics have a direct correlation to the rate of crime per county. It can be concluded that Harris county is the largest county in Texas, and the highest rated city regarding criminal activity with a large black and Hispanic population.

The demographics of Harris County play a large part in the incarceration rates and how crime affects the city. The influx of black incarcerated individuals translates to more violent crimes such as kidnapping, aggravated robbery with weapon, aggravated sexual assault (with child), etc. Among all the counties in Texas, there is a higher rate of violent crimes than non-violent crimes. This can be explained by the population demographics and the geographical location of the county.

Majority of the criminal population of Texas is made up of Hispanics, whites, and blacks, therefore the criminal activity is delineated according to leading ethnic group per county. Austin, Bastrop, and Brazoria county, all counties high in violent crimes such as murder, aggravated assault, and sexual assault, are densely populated by blacks. The act of violent crimes is directly correlated with largely black populated counties. Similarly, the counties densely populated with Hispanics such as, Kimble, Pesidio, and Maverick also show high rates for violent crimes such as murder and aggravated assault. However, there is also a high rate in marijuana possession and distribution. This is mostly due to the geographical positioning of the county in the Southern region of Texas. Being so close to the border of Mexico, these southern Texan counties have a strong relation with drug related crimes. These densely packed Hispanics counties have violent crime ratings as well as drug related crime. On the other hand, many white populated counties have non-violent crime ratings, such as burglary and DWI’s.

Crime Description per County

Highest Crime Recorded per County

Figure 3: Highest Crime Recorded per County – This visual provides all the various types of crime descriptions and reports the highest rated crime per county.

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Much of the incarcerated population in Texas is made up of blacks and Hispanics, and regionally speaking, the crime differs per northern and southern hemispheres within Texas. The northern counties experience more distributed crime within the range of non-violent to violent crimes. The northern counties have criminal activity that appears to be more localized, such as abandoned children, burglary, or even Marijuana charges, whereas the southern counties have more large scale crime such as murder, aggravated assault, and kidnapping. This kind of distinction between non-violent and violent crime creates a very thin line between northern and southern hemispheres, however, there is still a significant difference between varieties of criminal activity based on geographical location.

Geographical County Demographics

Figure 4: Geographical County Demographics – This shows the majority population of each county based on three major ethnic groups — Hispanic, White, and African American.

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There is a significant relation between racial disparities and geographical location that contributes to criminal activity in Texas counties. The crime rates continue to fluctuate based on population, demographics, and county location. The three ethnic groups that contribute to the crime rate the most are Hispanics, blacks, and whites. There are differences between each ethnic group in terms of criminal activity and geographical location of population. The increasing population of blacks is a major contributor to the incarceration rates of Texas, along with the Hispanic and white population, and the government needs to initiate proficient solutions in reducing criminal activity in Texan counties by attacking population distribution or perhaps demographic analysis and restructure. Crime and incarceration will continue to have a pervasive role in the state of Texas, and the government should be active in the solutions and remedies aimed at controlling the crime rates in an effort to deflate crime across the nation via non-violent methods and practices.


Written by: Somya Gupta


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