Still convinced atheists are bound to be bad people?
The Federal Bureau of Prisons released an April 2013 survey of 218,167 prisoners that reports 0.07% of prisoners call themselves atheists. You read that right. Not 7%, or even 0.7 percent, but 0.07% of American prisoners are atheists.
Hemant Mehta first reported the statistic on his popular blog, The Friendly Atheist. Mehta wanted to corroborate the oft-quoted but dated, statistic that 0.7% of prisoners are atheists.
His open records request to the Federal Bureau of Prisons proves that an even smaller percentage of American prisoners, 0.07%, identify as atheists. Because 2.4% of the general population of Americans are atheists, according to a 2012 Pew study, atheists make up a disproportionately small percentage of prisoners. (Pew shows one in five U.S. adults identifies as “nonreligious,” but doesn’t necessary use the term “atheist.”)
That goes a long way to debunk the myth that a person can’t be good without a god. “Atheists have their own moral compass that doesn’t involve a holy book,” Mehta wrote.
Another reason for the low representation of atheists in prison is atheists tend to be well-educated and have above-average socioeconomic status. Inmates in general tend to be less- educated and poorer than the average American. This points out a flaw in American society, not in atheists’ morality.
Holy books may condemn and vilify atheists as terrible people, but this statistic just adds to the long list of their inaccuracies: 99.93% of people going to prison are not atheists.
— Andrew Seidel