Crime and Punishment Criminal Justice Prison Prison Policy

One in One Hundred Americans


This article in today’s New York Times speaks for itself.
If this doesn’t alarm you, check the batteries on your humanity-meter….or your pulse.

For the first time in the nation’s history, more than one in 100 American adults is behind bars, according to a new report.

Nationwide, the prison population grew by 25,000 last year
, bringing it to almost 1.6 million. Another 723,000 people are in local jails. The number of American adults is about 230 million, meaning that one in every 99.1 adults is behind bars.

Incarceration rates are even higher
for some groups. One in 36 Hispanic adults is behind bars, based on Justice Department figures for 2006. One in 15 black adults is, too, as is one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34.

The report, from the Pew Center on the States, also found that only one in 355 white women between the ages of 35 and 39 is behind bars, but that one in 100 black women is.

The report’s methodology differed
from that used by the Justice Department, which calculates the incarceration rate by using the total population rather than the adult population as the denominator. Using the department’s methodology, about one in 130 Americans is behind bars.

Either way, said Susan Urahn, the center’s managing director, “we aren’t really getting the return in public safety from this level of incarceration.”

“We tend to be a country in which incarceration is an easy response to crime,” Ms. Urahn continued. “Being tough on crime is an easy position to take, particularly if you have the money. And we did have the money in the ’80s and ’90s.”

Now, with fewer resources available to the states
, the report said, “prison costs are blowing a hole in state budgets.” On average, states spend almost 7 percent on their budgets on corrections, trailing only healthcare, education and transportation.

In 2007, according to the National Association
of State Budgeting Officers, states spent $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections. That is up from $10.6 billion in 1987, a 127 increase once adjusted for inflation. With money from bond issues and from the federal government included, total state spending on corrections last year was $49 billion. By 2011, the report said, states are on track to spend an additional $25 billion

Read the rest here.


  • What? Not enough diversity in the prisons?

    It seems to me that law enforcement is doing something right in catching criminals and/or criminals in society have grown in numbers. You can’t run cumulative statistics like that to see if all the individual trials were conducted properly or draw other misleading conclusions.

    If you like wolves and criminals, we’ll send you both.

    And, if you like statistics, here’s some from Rasmussen:
    “Just 24% of American voters have a favorable opinion of the New York Times. Forty-four percent (44%) have an unfavorable opinion and 31% are not sure.”

  • Actually shouldn’t that head read “One in ninety-nine?”

    At some point the nonsense will stop as the money will run out. People might say they’ll pay more taxes for schools but not for prisons and Federal Judges will order releases.

  • I just drove by a really good location for a new state prison – between the 15Fwy and the 40Fwy. the location is a really nice hot Mountain ridge.

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