From the Pew Charitable Trusts website, according to a report issued March 2009:
"Explosive growth in the number of people on probation or parole has propelled the population of the American corrections system to more than 7.3 million, or 1 in every 31 U.S. adults, according to a report released by the Pew Center on the States. The vast majority of these offenders live in the community, yet new data in the report finds that nearly 90 percent of state corrections dollars are spent on prisons. One in 31: The Long Reach of American Corrections examines the scale and cost of prison, jail, probation and parole in each of the 50 states, and provides a blueprint for states to cut both crime and spending by reallocating prison expenses to fund stronger supervision of the large number of offenders in the community."
Another report released in February 2008 found one in 100 Americans is in jail or prison.
As the report states, "Three decades of growth in America's prison population has quietly nudged the nation across a sobering threshold: for the first time, more than one in every 100 adults is now confined in an American jail or prison. According to figures gathered and analyzed by the Pew Public Safety Performance Project, the number of people behind bars in the United States continued to climb in 2007, saddling cash-strapped states with soaring costs they can ill afford and failing to have a clear impact either on recidivism or overall crime."
The study found that:
--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
--Men are roughly 10 times more likely to be in jail or prison than females
--The female incarceration rate is faster than the male pace
--One of 100 black women in their mid- to late-30s is incarcerated
--One in every 53 people in their 20s is behind bars; for those over 55, the rate falls to one in 837
The report continues, "In exploring such alternatives, lawmakers are learning that current prison growth is not driven primarily by a parallel increase in crime, or a corresponding surge in the population at large. Rather, it flows principally from a wave of policy choices that are sending more lawbreakers to prison and, through popular “three-strikes” measures and other sentencing enhancements, keeping them there longer.
"In 1987, the states collectively spent $10.6 billion of their general funds—their primary pool of discretionary tax dollars—on corrections. Last year, they spent more than $44 billion, a 315 percent jump, data from the National Association of State Budget Officers show. Adjusted to 2007 dollars, the increase was 127 percent. Over the same period, adjusted spending on higher education rose just 21 percent."
Tags: cost of incarceration, incarceration rates, pew charitable trusts, prison reform
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