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calendar   Thursday - February 28, 2008

United States of Incarceration?

1 in 100 Adult Americans In Jail

This is not a happy post.

For the first time in history, more than one in every 100 American adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report tracking the surge in inmate population and urging states to rein in corrections costs with alternative sentencing programs.

The report, released today by the Pew Center on the States, said the 50 states spent more than $49 billion on corrections last year, up from less than $11 billion 20 years earlier. The rate of increase for prison costs was six times greater than for higher education spending, the report said.

Using updated state-by-state data, the report said 2,319,258 adults were held in U.S. prisons or jails at the start of 2008—one out of every 99.1 adults, and more than any other country in the world.

The steadily growing inmate population “is saddling cash-strapped states with soaring costs they can ill afford and failing to have a clear impact either on recidivism or overall crime,” said the report.

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Susan Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center on the States, said budget woes are prompting officials in many states to consider new, cost-saving corrections policies that might have been shunned in the recent past for fear of appearing soft in crime.

“We’re seeing more and more states being creative because of tight budgets,” she said in an interview. “They want to be tough on crime, they want to be a law-and-order state—but they also want to save money, and they want to be effective.”

“We need to be smarter,” said David Muhlhausen, a criminal justice expert with the conservative Heritage Foundation. “We’re not incarcerating all the people who commit serious crimes—but we’re also probably incarcerating people who don’t need to be.”

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“For all the money spent on corrections today, there hasn’t been a clear and convincing return for public safety,” said the project’s director, Adam Gelb. “More and more states are beginning to rethink their reliance on prisons for lower-level offenders and finding strategies that are tough on crime without being so tough on taxpayers.”

The report said prison growth and higher incarceration rates do not reflect a parallel increase in crime or in the nation’s overall population. Instead, it said, more people are behind bars mainly because of tough sentencing measures, such as “three-strikes” laws, that result in longer prison stays.

“For some groups, the incarceration numbers are especially startling,” the report said. “While one in 30 men between the ages of 20 and 34 is behind bars, for black males in that age group the figure is one in nine.”

Mother fuggers. They always have to drag race into it!!  I DON’T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT WHAT RACE CRIMINALS ARE. If it turns out that more black guys are in prison relative to their slice of the overall population, then all that means is that they commit, and are convicted of, more crimes. OMFG, I spoke the raw truth!! Get out the EVIL RACIST branding iron!!

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The report said the United States is the world’s incarceration leader, far ahead of more populous China with 1.5 million people behind bars. It said the U.S. also is the leader in inmates per capita (750 per 100,000 people), ahead of Russia (628 per 100,000) and other former Soviet bloc nations which make up the rest of the Top 10.

You knew that was coming. This is from the LA Times after all. Hey, did they ever stop and think that maybe America is a land of opportunity for criminals as well?

Still, it is very sad that we have so many people behind bars. Is it because we have too many laws? Is it because we have too harsh penalties? Is it because we should all just chill the heck out and let the little shit go? Also not mentioned is ... how many of those incarcerated are actually Americans? I think it’s only fair to deduct the foreigners from the total, even though they’re contributing to the tax burden prison costs place on the rest of us. And how many minors are behind bars? They’re Americans too. But really, these are just quibbles I’m making. An awful lot of people here are in jail. What does that say about us, either good or bad?

LA Times article
Actual Pew Center Report, where I borrowed the graphics from


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 02/28/2008 at 09:36 PM   
Filed Under: • Crime •  
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