Prison Population Trends Who is in America’s Corrections System?
US Compared to World • In 2007, the United States had over 2.3 million people in prison. The highest of any country in the world. • China came in second with 1.5 million people in prison.
Correctional Supervision In 2009, over 7.2 million people were under some form of correctional supervision. Probation - court-ordered period of correctional supervision in the community generally as an alternative to incarceration. Prison - confinement in a state or federal correctional facility to serve a sentence of more than 1 year.Jail - confinement in a local jail while pending trial, awaiting sentencing, serving a sentence that is usually less than 1 year, or awaiting transfer to other facilities after conviction.Parole - period of conditional supervised release in the community following a prison term, including prisoners released to parole either by a parole board decision (discretionary parole) or according to provisions of a statute (mandatory parole).
Why do states care about prison population? • States spend a large amount of their budget on corrections costs. • In 1987, on average states spent $19.38 billion on corrections (adjusted for inflation). • In 2007, states spent $44.06 billion. • Policy makers have to weigh public safety issues against other state priorities (like education and healthcare). Source: Pew Center on the States
Prison Overcrowding • 1990-1995, there was a 23% increase in number of people of people in the corrections system. • This increase was caused by get-tough-on-crime policies (More defendants went to jail for longer prison sentences) • Increased use of mandatory sentences • Lengthening prison sentences • Less use of parole Source: Street Law
Costs of Overcrowding • 1990s: Boom in constructing prisons • 1996 average construction cost per bed: $40,000 • Maintaining that bed: $15,000-$50,000 per year • Dangers: overcrowding sparks riots and fights. Source: Street Law
Federal Convictions and Prison • The proportion of those convicted in Federal court who are sentenced to prison has been increasing Source: Department of Justice, BJS
State Convictions & Prison Rates • More than two thirds of the felons convicted in state courts were sentenced to prison or jail Source: Department of Justice, BJS
Who’s Behind Bars? • In 2008, 1 in every 100 adults in America was behind bars. • Men ages 18 or older: 1 in 54 • White men 18 or older: 1 in 106 • Hispanic men 18 or older: 1 in 36 • Black men 18 or older: 1 in 15 • Black men 20-34: 1 in 9 Source: Department of Justice, BJS
What about women? • All women ages 35-39: 1 in 265 • White women ages 35-39: 1 in 355 • Hispanic women ages 35-39: 1 in 265 • Black women ages 35-39: 1 in 100 Source: Department of Justice, BJS
Who is on Death Row? Source: Department of Justice, BJS
Types of Offenses Source: Department of Justice, BJS
Drug Arrests Drug abuse violations: offenses relating to the unlawful possession, sale, use, growing, manufacturing, and making of narcotic drugs including opium or cocaine and their derivatives, marijuana, synthetic narcotics, and dangerous non-narcotic drugs such as barbiturates. Source: Department of Justice, BJS
Violent Crime Rates The serious violent crimes included are rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and homicide. Source: Department of Justice, BJS
Juvenile Crime Trends The proportion of serious violent crimes committed by juveniles has generally declined since 1993. Source: Department of Justice, BJS
Questions to Consider • What, if anything, should be done to reduce prison overcrowding? Should we build more prisons? Be selective about who is being incarcerated? • How should states prioritize spending? Should a state let some offenders out early to cut down on prison costs? Which offenders?