Distribution of Incarceration in the U.S.

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The United States prison population is facing mounting hurdles both logistically and economically. Statistics compiled by Boston University reveal violent and property crimes have decreased from 2007 to 2011. Down from about 1.4 million to 1.2 million and 9.8 million to 9 million over four years respectively.

Yet, as of 2011, the United States had the highest incarceration rate in the world. Seven hundred and sixteen per 100,000 of the national population remain in a correctional institution. In total, that number amounts to almost 1.6 million male and female inmates in state and federal correctional facilities.

This rate translates into over 10.6 million crimes, nearly 60 percent of which were categorized as larceny or theft. Violent crimes accounted for 1.3 million, many of which were either aggravated assault or robbery.

An interesting picture emerges when comparing violent offenses to drug-related one. Inmates accused of drug-related crimes constituted 237,000 prisoners in 2010. Nearly equivalent to the number of inmates accused of violent crimes like assault (146,800) and sexual assault (90,600) combined.

These trends have an economic impact as well. Each death row execution can cost states like California up to $307 million. Eliminating the death penalty completely, and replacing it with life imprisonment without parole can save $1 billion over five years.

Ultimately reducing recidivism remains the key to alleviating the economic burden of incarceration. Two recommended approaches include behavioral treatment and stronger community involvement for low-level offenders.

prison-demographics

Source: CJ Degree Online

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5 comments
Brad Hansen
Brad Hansen

You covered the prison population by race. I am curious to see a breakdown by age, chiefly 13-15, 16-17, and 18-25, considering some fairly recent neuroscience findings on adolescent brain development. If you couldn't tell by my interest in this, I'm a New York State resident. One of two states yet to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18.

Glen Luke Flanagan
Glen Luke Flanagan

I think a big step toward reducing recidivism is increasing economic opportunity. The way the current system is set up, a felony conviction severely reduces one's chances of finding legitimate employment after release. If one is presented the choice of either struggling to find even low-wage jobs or returning to crime, it's unsurprising that many choose the latter option, and get in trouble again.

Joseph Avery
Joseph Avery

The drug bit remains the most baffling to me. There is a difference between being locked up for crimes that negatively affect the rights of other citizens, and having personal issues that could be treated with therapy. We are paying to lock people up in places where they can still gain access to drugs. It's nonsensical. Great info graphic Lucas.

Charlotte Dean
Charlotte Dean

21% of national incarceration curbed just with an inexpensive behavioral treatment...we need a prison reform crusade to help people understand how mending our populace will mend our economy.

Alex Gauthier
Alex Gauthier

One thing i wanted to know is how much white collar criminals make up in the prison system @lucaseaves