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America's Mass Incarceration Problem By the Numbers

It’s no secret that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Here’s how it breaks down. There are approximately 323.1 million people living in the U.S. As of 2017, there are more than 2.3 million people incarcerated in American jails. That includes 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 901 juvenile facilities, 3,163 local jails,

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Is There Really Gender Bias in the Justice System?

Have you ever watched Investigation Discovery? It’s a television network owned by Discovery Communications. Investigation Discovery, or ID, as it is commonly called, shows documentary-style programs and re-enactments focusing on violent crimes, complete with expert commentary from journalists, law enforcement officers and those impacted by the crimes. Psychologists also weigh in on the shows. In viewing

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Federal Prison Population Dropped 13% In Four Years

By Christopher Zoukis A new analysis released by the nonprofit Sentencing Project is a classic case of good news and bad news. On one hand, it finds a widespread trend toward lower incarceration levels: the combined state and federal total number of inmates has declined by 4.9% since hitting its peak in 2009, and the

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Nearly a Quarter of Federal Inmates Were Born Outside the U.S.

  According to Department of Justice statistics released on May 2, 24% of federal inmates were born outside the U.S., and over half of them have received a final deportation order. In announcing a new DOJ report, Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared illegal aliens who commit further crimes in this country “are a threat to

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American Jail Population Remains Steady

By Chris Zoukis The population of America’s jails at mid-year 2014 remained steady at approximately three-quarters or a million prisoners, at 744,600 men, women, and children.  This number represents a 1.8 percent increase from 2013 levels, but still lower than the 2008 high of 785,500 persons, according to a June 2015 report from the U.S.

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Split Sentences to Cut Prison Numbers and Recidivism: Stanford Prof

By Christopher Zoukis Most jurisdictions struggle with how to relieve overcrowded prisons and jails, but at the same time avoid releasing inmates who are most likely to re-offend. After examining the experience of Los Angeles County coping with a California state policy that transferred many low-level felons from state prisons to county and city jails,

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U.S. Prison Population Soars as Education Spending Plummets

By Kate Randall / World Socialist Web Site  Image courtesy upworthy.com The prison populations in most US states are at historic highs. Prisons in 36 US states incarcerate three times as many people as they did in 1978. State prison systems account for 87 percent of the total prisoner population, or roughly 1.3 million in

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Two More Years to Reduce Overcrowding: A Tide in the Affairs of California’s Prison System?

By Christopher Zoukis

In February, the State of California secured yet another extension to the date by which it must comply with the U.S. Supreme Court order to reduce overcrowding in its state prisons.  Prior to the February 10, 2014 ruling, the deadline for reductions in prison overcrowding was set for April, but in the latest decision, three federal judges gave the state an additional two years to comply.

California’s prison population is second only to Texas.  Between 2000 and 2010 the inmate population was relatively stable, with a 2010 population of 165,062, or 0.44% of the state’s population, an increase of just 1.3% since 2000.  Long-running lawsuits against overcrowding, particularly from inmates with serious medical or mental health conditions, forced a reduction.  In 2010, the prison population fell by 9.4% to 149,569, but overcrowding remains a serious problem.  California state prisons are currently 44% over the listed capacity.

The state’s increasingly harsh sentencing laws are a significant part of the problem, but despite long sentences and often miserable prison conditions, California’s recidivism rate is much higher than the national average.  Roughly 60% of released prisoners are back behind bars within three years, compared to 44% nationally.  Nor has the current strategy resulted in safer communities.  Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice for 2011 show that although rates for some crimes are below the national average (13% lower for burglary, 20% lower for larceny/theft, and 24% lower for forcible rape), for other rates, California significantly exceeded those for the nation as a whole: violent crimes are 6.4% higher, robbery 27% higher, and motor vehicle thefts a whopping 70% higher.  Given the dire state of California’s public finances and the clear failure of the prison system, it shouldn’t require a court order to persuade the state to re-think its strategy.

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