Thursday, June 10, 2010

Incarceration Nation

One guess as to what caused most of the spike in the incarceration rate post 1980.

Non-violent drug arrests and we all know what portion of the population this disproportionately impacts.

From the NYT and the Center for Economic and Policy Research...
The United States currently incarcerates a higher share of its population than any other country in the world. The total number of violent crimes was only about three percent higher in 2008 than it was in 1980, while the total number of property crimes was about 20 percent lower. Over the same period, the U.S. population increased about 33 percent and the prison and jail population increased by more than 350 percent.

Stricter sentencing policies, particularly for drug-related offenses, rather than rising crime, are the main culprit behind skyrocketing incarceration rates. The last three decades have seen the implementation of new “tough on crime” policies such as three-strikes laws, truth in sentencing laws, and mandatory minimums. These laws have led to a significant increase in the number people who are incarcerated for non-violent offenses. Arrests and convictions for drug offenses have increased dramatically over the last three decades, with non-violent drug offenders now accounting for about one-fourth of all offenders behind bars, up from less than 10 percent in 1980.

Here's one more graph to chew on...

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