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What Obama Got Wrong

Friday, December 14, 2007

WHAT HE GOT WRONG: "I don't want to wake up four years from now and discover that we still have more young black men in prison than in college."

-- Barack Obama, rally in Harlem, Nov. 29

Obama has repeated this false claim to predominantly African American audiences, even after The Washington Post pointed out the mistake to his campaign. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 106,000 African American men ages 18 to 24 were in federal or state prisons at the end of 2005. An additional 87,000 were temporarily held in local jails in mid-2006. According to 2005 census data, 530,000 African American men in this age group were in college.

Black male college students outnumber black male prisoners even if the age group is expanded to 30 or 35. The Obama campaign has not responded to several requests for statistical data to support the senator's remarks, and it has not explained a similar claim that he made to an NAACP audience on July 12.

-- Michael Dobbs

For daily truth-squadding, visit washingtonpost.com/factchecker. Read the Candidates Week series at washingtonpost.com/frontrunners. Kevin Merida will discuss his article today at 1 p.m.

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