1 in 31 Americans Under Correctional Control
A new study by the Pew Center
"Building more prisons is not a cost-effective path to greater public safety," states The Pew Center on the States in a new report released his week.
1 in 31 Americans are currently under correctional control, either in prison or jail, or on probation or parole. Here are some statistics that the study has released:
- In the last 25 years, the number of prisoners in the U.S. has risen 274%, while the violent crime rate has only dropped 23%
- There are currently 7.3 million adults under correctional control (in prison or jail, or on probation or parole)
- 1 in 11 Black adults, 1 in 27 Hispanic adults, and 1 in 45 white adults are under correctional control
The study spotlights Kentucky, showing that 1 in 35 Kentuckians is under correctional control. They also state that:
- Kentucky's prison population has grown by 50% in the last eight years, with a current population of 22,000. It is the fastest growing prison system in the country.
- The basis for Kentucky's growth in prison population is in changes in the law. As the study states, "The growth has been propelled by a series of tough-on-crime measures that began in 1974 with passage of the first version of the state's 'persistent felon law,'" which originally required three strikes, but was cut back to two strikes in 1976. Other changes in the 90s "elevated misdemeanors to felonies, recassified offenses as higher level felonies and enhanced the penalties for a variety of crimes."
- From 1987-2007, the state's prison population grew nearly 250%, while to violent crime rate fell by only 13%
- The spike in prison population has left Kentucky's prisons packed and the jails overflowing. The state's jails hold about 20,000 people.
The focus of this study, though, is on the discrepancy between prison spending and community corrections spending. 9 in 10 correctional dollars are being spent in prisons rather than in the community. "While the incarcerated popluation has added only half as many offenders as community supervision over the last quarter century…prisons have received almost 90 percent of the new funding." To house someone in a prison costs the tax-payers about $79 per prisoner per day, while to keep someone under community supervision costs only $3.42 for probationers and $7.47 for parolees.
The Pew study outlines six components needed to make productive change in the community corrections system: 1) Sort offenders by risk to public safety, 2) Base Intervention Programs on Science, 3) Harness Technology, 4) Impose Swift and Certain Sanctions, 5) Create Incentives for Success, and 6) Measure Progress.
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