Friday, February 29, 2008

US Prison Nation: 1 in 100 Adults Behind Bars

US Prison Nation: 1 in 100 Adults Behind Bars

US Prison Nation: 1 in 100 Adults Behind Bars The New York Times reports that a new study from the Pew Center on the States reveals that "for the first time in the nation’s history, more than one in 100 American adults is behind bars."

"Nationwide, the prison population grew by 25,000 last year, bringing it to almost 1.6 million,"the New York Times continues. "Another 723,000 people are in local jails. The number of American adults is about 230 million, meaning that one in every 99.1 adults is behind bars."

"Incarceration rates are even higher for some groups. One in 36 Hispanic adults is behind bars, based on Justice Department figures for 2006. One in 15 black adults is, too, as is one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34.

In addition state budgets are being stretched to the max by draconian federal laws which dictate mandatory sentencing and thus increased costs, a legacy of the twisted Rockefeller laws of the 1970s.

"In 2007, according to the National Association of State Budgeting Officers, states spent $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections," the Times reports.

"That is up from $10.6 billion in 1987, a 127 increase once adjusted for inflation. With money from bond issues and from the federal government included, total state spending on corrections last year was $49 billion. By 2011, the report said, states are on track to spend an additional $25 billion.

The waste in US resources is mind-boggling, though it provides huge revenue streams for corporate-government insiders who have taken advantage of the "privatization" of the prison business, the so-called prison-industrial complex..

"It cost an average of $23,876 to imprison someone in 2005, the most recent year for which data is available. But state spending varies widely, from $45,000 a year for each inmate in Rhode Island to just $13,000 in Louisiana.

"The cost of medical care is growing by 10 percent annually, the report said, a rate that will accelerate as the prison population ages.

"About one in nine state government employees works in corrections, and some states are finding it hard to fill those jobs. California spent more than $500 million on overtime alone in 2006."

In the American Prison Nation, the privatized prison business is a growth industry.

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