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Chapter 18. Incarceration Trends. U.S. incarceration rate, over time. U.S. incarceration rate per 100,000 population. why the growth in incarceration rate?. demographic change changes in the proportion of people in “crime prone” (16 - 24) & “incarceration prone” (25 - 30) age groups

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chapter 18
Chapter 18

Incarceration Trends

u s incarceration rate over time
U.S. incarceration rate,over time

U.S. incarceration rate

per 100,000 population

why the growth in incarceration rate
why the growth in incarceration rate?
  • demographic change
    • changes in the proportion of people in “crime prone” (16 - 24) & “incarceration prone” (25 - 30) age groups
  • increased arrest rates & more incarceration (including for probation/parole violations)
  • tougher sentencing practices
    • less probation, longer sentences, fewer paroles
  • prison construction
  • war on drugs
  • public policy trends: “getting tough”
admission rate for drug offenders 80 to 94
admission rate for drug offenders (‘80 to ‘94)

# of drug offenders per 1,000 new court commitments to prisons in US

strategies to address prison crowding crisis
strategies to address prison crowding crisis

null strategy

strategies

prison population reduction

construction strategy

intermediate sanctions

null strategy

definition

“null strategy”
  • the strategy of doing nothing to relieve crowding in prisons on the assumption that the problem is temporary and will disappear in time
prison population reduction
prison population reduction
  • states rarely control prison population
    • 9 states with sentencing guidelines have required guideline framers to consider prison capacity when stipulating sentences
      • eg, Minnesota has had 2d lowest incarceration rate in U.S. from 1985 - 1997
    • Texas county “shipping” formula, 1990
    • “back door” strategies more typical:
      • parole, work release, good time
construction strategy

definition

“construction strategy”
  • a strategy of building new facilities to meet the demand for prison space
    • cost of average prison cell (in 500 bed facility):
      • $75,000 base construction cost (= $31 million)
      • $22,000 architects’ fees, furnishings, site prep.
      • $82,000 actual cost per cell
      • $41,000,000 to build 500 bed facility
    • operating cost:
      • $19,000 per inmate per year ($9.5 mill)
  • 30-year bill for 500 bed facility:
    • $326 million
    • NOT the $30 million originally claimed.
impact of prison crowding
impact of prison crowding

ill health

results of crowding

post-release recidivism

offender misconduct

violent behavior

does incarceration pay
does incarceration pay?
  • Debate over cost-effectiveness of prison. marginal savings of locking up each offender?
  • Zedlewski: $430,000 vs. cost of $25,000
  • DiIulio: $28,000 vs. cost of $14,000
  • Marvell: would save 21 crimes/year per offender
hidden costs of incarceration
hidden costs of incarceration

offenders’ families & children

loss of young men to communities

post-release recidivism

hidden costs

opportunity costs of not having other social programs