Record-high ratio of Americans in prison

By | February 28, 2008

Record-high ratio of Americans in prison

For the first time in U.S. history, more than one of every 100 adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report documenting America’s rank as the world’s No. 1 incarcerator. It urges states to curtail corrections spending by placing fewer low-risk offenders behind bars.

Using state-by-state data, the report says 2,319,258 Americans were in jail or prison at the start of 2008 – one out of every 99.1 adults. Whether per capita or in raw numbers, it’s more than any other nation.

The report, released Thursday 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. …

While many state governments have shown bipartisan interest in curbing prison growth, there also are persistent calls to proceed cautiously.

“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.”

According to the report, the inmate population increased last year in 36 states and the federal prison system.

The largest percentage increase – 12 percent – was in Kentucky, where Gov. Steve Beshear highlighted the cost of corrections in his budget speech last month. He noted that the state’s crime rate had increased only about 3 percent in the past 30 years, while the state’s inmate population has increased by 600 percent. – AP


2 thoughts on “Record-high ratio of Americans in prison

  1. mnuez

    Here’s my choice:

    Try and fry every single violent criminal you can get your hands on… AFTER you’ve restructured society so that half its population doesn’t live in the shit. When we’ve got no billionaires and no homeless people, healthcare clothing housing and education for all, and an economic system that doesn’t terribly favor the lucky (whether with wealthy parents, or brains or anything else) at the excruciating expense of the unlucky, then torturing all violent criminals to death is just fine with me. But there won’t be many of them.


  2. Ann

    The USA imprisons more people per capita than any other country.

    Yeah, there’s are about 1 in a 100 are in prison, overall. But, that’s not the worst of it.

    For Hispanics over 18 years of age it’s about 1 in 36 who are in prison; for Blacks over 18 it’s 1 in 15. For all males between the ages of 20 to 34 it’s 1 in 30 and for Blacks in the same age bracket it’s 1 in 9. (This is from the same report.) Can you really believe this? For a country that considers itself so wonderful…

    All I can say there’s something definitely wrong with the USA! But, I do honestly believe the problem is called, “capitalism”.

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