Contextualising race and racism with reference to the US deflects us from understanding the depth of racial logics in British society, says Rod Earle

Shocking as it was to read that “more than half of the inmates held in prisons for young people in England and Wales are from black and minority ethnic (BME) background” (Report, 29 January) it was disappointing to see the Guardian reproduce the myth that this disproportionality has now “hit American levels”.

For the last 30 years, levels of disproportionality in England and Wales prisons have consistently exceeded those of the US, as frequently reported by the respected LSE academic Dr Coretta Phillips. It has been getting worse recently, especially in youth custody where the welcome decline in overall numbers has not been shared equally between ethnic groups.

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