5.22.2006

Prison Nation

From the AP:

- Prisons and jails added more than 1,000 inmates each week for a year, putting almost 2.2 million people, or one in every 136 U.S. residents, behind bars by last summer.

The total on June 30, 2005, was 56,428 more than at the same time in 2004, the government reported Sunday. That 2.6 percent increase from mid-2004 to mid-2005 translates into a weekly rise of 1,085 inmates.

Of particular note was the gain of 33,539 inmates in jails, the largest increase since 1997, researcher Allen J. Beck said. That was a 4.7 percent growth rate, compared with a 1.6 percent increase in people held in state and federal prisons.

"The jail population is increasingly unconvicted," Beck said. "Judges are perhaps more reluctant to release people pretrial."

[...]

The states with the highest rates were Louisiana and Georgia, with more than 1 percent of their populations in prison or jail. Rounding out the top five were Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma.

The states with the lowest rates were Maine, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire.
Oh, and while only 1.7% of white males 25-29 are incarcerated, 11.9% of all black men are behind bars. Women make up the fastest growing segment of the prison population, though men are 10-11 times more likely to be imprisoned.

The article cites mandatory sentencing and drug laws as the reason for a growing prison population.

* * * * *

I'm beginning to develop a theory that most of the things wrong with government stem from a breakdown of the "Three Branch" system. Problems with the Executive Branch stem from a lack of oversight by congress. Problems in the Judicial Branch are rooted in the Legislative Branch - in this case the inability of judges to decide sentences due to minimum sentence laws passed by congress. And the Legislative branch seems more concerned with anything and everything except passing useful legislation. Baseball hearings, Judicial Appointments, elections.

It's an emerging theory. I'll see how the framework fits as new stories come along.

1 comment:

KnightErrant said...

Some perspective. The prison population equals the adult population of Connecticut. We have 738 prisoners per 100,000 people; Germany has 96.