U.S. Leads the World in Incarceration Rates
We call this section “comparisons,” but you’ll see from the graph that there really are none. The U.S. leads the world by such an order of magnitude that it’s absurd. Note in particular the company we keep. Not the best of neighborhoods. To get beyond semi-developed police states, you have to scroll quite a ways. Source: The World Factbook.
How We Got Here
The explosion traces to the war on drugs, mandatory minimums, and three strikes laws, all a response to legitimate crime concerns, but ultimately rife with unintended consequences. Source: U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics
Taxpayers Footing the Bill
Sharply escalating corrections expenses are now the fastest growing portion of the average state budget. With a national average of $26,000 per year per inmate, it\’s not cheap to throw away the key. With state budgets everywhere at the breaking point, is it time to reconsider our approach? Source: Pew Center on the States.
State by State U.S. Incarceration Rates
Not all states are equal. Incarceration rates vary dramatically, and much of this variance is due to differences in demographics or policies. Deciding how much to attribute to which cause is not easy. Source: Kaiser Family Foundation.
State by State Recidivism Rates
In April, 2011, the Pew Center on the States released their latest data on state-by-state prisoner reentry performance. The numbers are the percentage of released prisoners who return to prison within three years, either through their parole being revoked or by committing new crimes.