Wednesday, 15 March 2017

More than 2 million people are in jail or prison — here's 4 charts that break that down

Harris County Jail

More than two million people in the US are currently serving time in one of the country's correctional facilities, according to a report released by the Prison Policy Initiative on Tuesday.

The report found that the US currently holds 2.3 million people in more than 1719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 901 juvenile correctional facilities, and 3163 local jails, among other detention centers.

With the adult population of the US at more than 249 million in 2015, 1 in roughly every 100 people over 18 is currently tied up in the country's correctional system.

PPI created a number of charts to further explain mass incarceration in America:

SEE ALSO: This World Map Shows The Enormity Of America's Prison Problem

The 'War on Drugs' has locked up a lot of people.

Drugs are by far the most common reason for incarceration. One in every five people is convicted for a drug-related offense like trafficking or possession, according to the report.

The number of drug arrests has nearly tripled over the last 30+ years. Many experts credit that development to the "War on Drugs," a series of tough criminal justice and drug policies that began under President Richard Nixon and continued under President Ronald Reagan.

During the "War on Drugs," lengthy mandatory minimum sentences became standard for drug offenders. The PPI report suggested that that policy, and others like it, left people in poor communities with criminal records, setting of a cycle of instability and criminal involvement.

"The data makes it clear that ending the War on Drugs will not alone end mass incarceration, but that the federal government and some states have effectively reduced their incarcerated populations by turning to drug policy reform," the report says.

The vast majority of people in state prisons are locked up for violent offenses.

Currently, only 34,000 offenders are below 18. 

While making up only a small portion of those incarcerated, the young offenders behind bars often serve time for offenses such as "technical violations" of parole (6,600 people) or "status offenses" like running away from home (600 people). 

There are very large racial and ethnic disparities in the correctional system.

White people make up 64 percent of the total US population and 39 percent of the prison and jail population while African Americans make up 13 percent of the total population and 40 percent of those behind bars, according to 2010 census data.

Latino and Native incarceration rates are roughly proportional with the overall US population.

While the country also has a roughly equal population of men and women, men make up 91 percent of those currently in prison or jail.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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