A surprising reversal in America's prison population
The soaring costs of incarceration got even conservatives' attention, leading to new approaches to criminal justice and sentencing.
For the past several decades, and to the dismay of many people, one national sector has seen unprecedented growth: America's prison population. The number of inmates in U.S. federal and state prisons grew sixfold between the 1970s and 2000. State prison populations alone jumped by 700% between 1970 and 2009 after topping 2 million for the first time in 2002.
However, at the end of 2012, the Department of Justice reported that while more than 2.2 million people were incarcerated in local, state or federal prisons -- and 4.8 million more under some from of adult correctional supervision like community service, probation or parole -- the overall number of inmates was declining.
According to The Wall Street Journal, rising costs, lower crime rates, increased budget pressures, and new approaches to corrections and sentencing have finally added up to fewer people behind bars.
Another critical component has been a political shift. Conservative lawmakers, who in the past supported tough crime laws and strict sentencing guidelines, are now spearheading many of the reforms.
The WSJ says the changeover was first noticed in Texas in 2007, when GOP officials there "balked at the need to build three new prisons to house an anticipated 17,000 more prisoners by 2012."
"They decided instead to revamp the state's probation system," the paper noted, "and boost funding for addiction treatment and rehabilitation by $241 million." Since 2008, the Texas state prison population has declined by nearly 6,000 inmates, leading Texas to shut down a prison in 2011 for the first time in state history.
In Ohio, Republican state Sen. Bill Seit says his views on prison time began to change several years ago when his county, which includes Cincinnati, voted down funding to construct a new jail. "It became all the clearer to me how we pass tough sentencing laws with a blind eye to the fiscal impacts," he told the paper.
Georgia was recently spending $3 million a day to keep one out of every 13 state residents behind bars, on probation or on parole. But new laws there have helped move nonviolent criminals into non-prison situations, such as rehabilitation programs. The changes have also given state judges wider leeway in sentencing and in expanding so-called accountability courts.
One Georgia drug court, for example, found its sentencing program of mandatory employment or schooling, group counseling and frequent drug tests costs the state $13 a day per person -- compared with the $50 a day needed to feed and house a state prisoner. And the recidivism rate for the drug-court "graduates" is just 8%.
That's some much-needed good news in a category that until recently has had very little.
This is just corporate propaganda at its best. The for profit prison system does not want the publicity it has been getting by locking non-violent prisoners for profit, like marijuana possesion.
4K is working? No, no, too early to tell.
Did the abortion numbers go up about twenty years ago, again, leading to another long term decline in future unwanted, badly raised little human children turned criminals thereby depressing the need for prisons in the here and now?
Let's stop the war on drugs program and legalize all but the most potent drugs . The money saved on jails and the taxes collected on these drugs could then be used for treatment programs for the hardcore addicts. An intense anti-drug use program could be started in our schools to educate our children about all the bad aspects of drug use. These programs could be required from kindergarten through high school. There will always be those who will abuse drugs, but putting them in jail isn't working and neither is trying to stop the illegal sale and importation of drugs. Why not re-direct that money for our own positive uses like better schools, roads, bridges, airports?
Areas with concealed carry (cc) laws that favor law abiding citizens are seeing lower crime rates.
Areas with cc laws that don't favor law abiding citizens are still crime cesspools.
Crook County Illinois denies it's citizens their 2nd ammendment rights. Any woman who has been victimized/raped in Crook County in the last 20 years should sue the pants off Crook County and former Chicago mayor, Richie "it's not my fault I'm a crook" Daley.
Concealed carry saves THOUSANDS OF LIVES a year, and is an effective deterrent in reducing crime. Politicians of Illinois do your job and let the good citizens of Illinois protect themselves and their families.
But on the other hand, if the crime rate fell in Crook County, you might lose some votes from the reduction in police and prison guard union members. Hard decision, save lives and lose votes, or keep the votes and lose a few thousand lives. Silly me, what's a few thousand lives in the grand quest of maintaining the Chicago/Illinois Democratic Machine.
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