1 in 100 U.S. Adults Behind Bars, New Study Says

Discussion in 'Economics' started by bat1, Feb 28, 2008.

  1. bat1


    25 billion for new jails? when is this madness going to end? let's invest in new jobs not jails ....

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    Published: February 28, 2008

    For the first time in the nation’s history, more than one in 100 American adults is behind bars, according to a new report.
    Growth in Incarceration
    Text of the Report (pewcenteronthestates.org)

    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 are behind bars but that one in 100 black women are.

    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.”

    But Paul Cassell, a law professor at the University of Utah and a former federal judge, said the Pew report considered only half of the cost-benefit equation and overlooked the “very tangible benefits — lower crime rates.”

    In the past 20 years, according the Federal Bureau of Investigation, violent crime rates fell by 25 percent, to 464 for every 100,000 people in 2007 from 612.5 in 1987.

    “While we certainly want to be smart about who we put into prisons,” Professor Cassell said, “it would be a mistake to think that we can release any significant number of prisoners without increasing crime rates. One out of every 100 adults is behind bars because one out of every 100 adults has committed a serious criminal offense.”

    Ms. Urahn said the nation cannot afford the incarceration rate documented in the report. “We tend to be a country in which incarceration is an easy response to crime,” she said. “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, 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 bonds and 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.

    It cost an average of $23,876 dollars to imprison someone in 2005, the most recent year for which data were available. But state spending varies widely, from $45,000 a year in Rhode Island to $13,000 in Louisiana.

    The cost of medical care is growing by 10 percent annually, the report said, and will accelerate as the prison population ages.

    About one in nine state government employees works in corrections, and some states are finding it hard to fill those jobs. California spent more than $500 million on overtime alone in 2006.

    The number of prisoners in California dropped by 4,000 last year, making Texas’s prison system the nation’s largest, at about 172,000. But the Texas legislature last year approved broad changes to the corrections system there, including expansions of drug treatment programs and drug courts and revisions to parole practices.

    “Our violent offenders, we lock them up for a very long time — rapists, murderers, child molestors,” said John Whitmire, a Democratic state senator from Houston and the chairman of the state senate’s criminal justice committee. “The problem was that we weren’t smart about nonviolent offenders. The legislature finally caught up with the public.”

    He gave an example.

    “We have 5,500 D.W.I offenders in prison,” he said, including people caught driving under the influence who had not been in an accident. “They’re in the general population. As serious as drinking and driving is, we should segregate them and give them treatment.”

    The Pew report recommended diverting nonviolent offenders away from prison and using punishments short of reincarceration for minor or technical violations of probation or parole. It also urged states to consider earlier release of some prisoners.

    Before the recent changes in Texas, Mr. Whitmire said, “we were recycling nonviolent offenders.”
  2. If we don't incarcerate the drug dealers harshly, the black market illegal drugs don't have high prices and the government can't get its steady flow of cash money from the war on drugs.

    I'll bet at least half of those prisoners are in there for drug related offenses.

    Prison is a business.
  3. Pot is a gateway drug. A gateway to jobs for police, DEA, lawyers, Judges, Parol officers, prison guards and the prison industry.

    During the debates with medical pot in CA the CA prison guard union came out against it. gee I wonder why???

    I guess saying 'war on drugs' had a better ring to it then 'war on civil rights' and easier to sell to the public.

    I cant buy heyfever meds except at a pharmacy and I have to give them my DL and can only buy one box at a time. Meth use hasn't fallen and production has moved to mexico. One more pain in my ass with no results.
  4. Cutten


    I am glad to see Paul Cassell making the case for a strict jail policy. This is why America has by far the lowest crime rate in the civilised world. Besides, if you don't jail pot smokers, jaywalkers, pizza thieves, coffee-cup-throwing motorists, prostitutes, $50 cheque-bouncers, and anti-Bush protestors, how else is the corrections industry going to turn a profit? We need these dangerous hoodlums off the streets, otherwise little old ladies might pass out with distress when they read about liberal judges handing down lenient sentences and legislating from the bench. And at a cost of $20k per prisoner per annum, it's cheaper than employing them at Wal-Mart. Also, with 21% of inmates reporting being victims of sexual assault or rape whilst incarcerated, this means there are about half a million rapes per annum more than is shown on the official figures.

    Good job.
  5. Bob111


    i don't get this either....it's a free workforce..
  6. maxpi


    One good thing about jail is it separates your friends from your true friends. If you are in jail, your friends will come and visit but your true friend will be right there with you saying "that was bitchin' "
  7. mokwit


    Prisons are for profit organisations that need to show revenue growth (goddammit!). If they cannot give a ROIC comparable with other industries then investment dollars will flow t other sectors. The need GROWTH!.

    They can only grow revenue by obtaining a greater fee per prisoner from the government and by expanding their overall market - hence lobbying for higher fees stricter sentences no doubt. Perhaps the Judiciary should be privatised next as a vertical integration strategy to assure supply growth.
  8. don't forget that most governments have taken both sides of the deal, they are the dealers and the warriors on drugs (to imprison those who try to sell drugs and are not of them)

    this is done so no one else except them can enter this highly profitable market, plus they get to milk the public on taxes for fighting drugs
  9. Slave labor and organ harvesting of prisoners could become politically popular.
  10. It;s funny how the Death Penalty does nothing to stop murders. That's the harshish possible punishment but it doesn't work.

    Only education works -- but that would cost too much...

    I don't use or sell drugs, or steal cars, forge checks, or shoot people becuase I was educated in the different between right and wrong.
    #10     Feb 29, 2008