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Distribution of Incarceration in the U.S.

by Lucas Eaves, published

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.


Source: CJ Degree Online

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