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Friday, February 29, 2008

The Prison Vote

The L.A. Times, Washington Post and Associated Press today summarized a new research paper published by the nonpartisan Pew Center. The report confirmed what some of us already knew, but with startling clarity.

1. At the start of 2008, the U.S. has more than 2.3 million people in prisons and jails. The U.S. leads the world in numbers and percentages of population in that statistic, more than in China (despite its far greater population) or Russia.

2. One out of nine black men between 20 and 34 is behind bars. For white men, the number is 0ne in 30.

3. Nonviolent offenders make up about half of the prison population.

4. Florida, which doubled its prison population in the last 15 years has experienced a smaller drop in crime than New York, which eventually reduced the number of inmates below the 1993 level.

5. The study concluded that while "imprisoning more offenders reduces crime, the effect is influenced by the unemployment rate, wages, the ratio of police officers to residents, and the percentage of young people in the population."

6. State governments spend over $50 billion per year, the feds $5 billion, to incarcerate 1 out of every 100 American adults.

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