Thursday, February 28, 2008

Incarceration Rates Reach Highest Historical Levels

A new study finds that more than 1 out of every 100 American adults is currently incarcerated. The report from the Pew Center on the States differed from Justice Department figures because it based it percentages on the adult population, whereas the Justice Department divides by total population.
The study found that there are now 1.6 million people in prison (an increase of 25,000 over last year), while another 723,000 people are in local jails. Since the adult population is now 230 million, that means 1 out of every 99.1 Americans is behind bars. Using the Justice Department calculation, the number is closer to 1 in 130.
Additionally, 1 out of 35 Hispanic adults, and 1 out of 15 black adults are behind bars. Narrowing the numbers further, 1 out of ever 9 black men between the ages of 20 and 34 are now behind bars. More details can be found in this article.
A disclaimer: I am not familiar with Pew. If they turn out to be a terribly partisan group with iffy research, I will take this post down. But I wanted to get this up as I saw the numbers and was shocked.

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