Another study has been released demonstrating the absurd number of individuals incarcerated in the United States. According to the New York Times on February 29, 2008 (“U.S. Imprisons One in 100 Adults, Report Finds”), “For the first time in the nation’s history, more than one in 100 American adults are behind bars, according to a new report. Nationwide, the prison population grew by 25,000 last year, bringing it to almost 1.6 million, after three decades of growth that has seen the prison population nearly triple. 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.”

The Times reported that “Incarceration rates are even higher for some groups. One in 36 adult Hispanic men is behind bars, based on Justice Department figures for 2006. One in 15 adult black men is, too, as is one in nine black men ages 20 to 34. The report, from the Pew Center on the States, also found that one in 355 white women ages 35 to 39 is behind bars, compared with one in 100 black women. The report’s methodology differed from that used by the Justice Department, which calculates the incarceration rate by using the total population rather than the adult population as the denominator. Using the department’s methodology, about one in 130 Americans is behind bars.”

The Times noted, “The United States imprisons more people than any other nation in the world. China is second, with 1.5 million people behind bars. The gap is even wider in percentage terms. Germany imprisons 93 out of every 100,000 people, according to the International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College in London. The comparable number for the United States is roughly eight times that, or 750 out of 100,000.”

The Times noted further that “On average, states spend almost 7 percent of their budgets on corrections, trailing only health care, education and transportation. In 2007, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers, states spent $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections. That is up from $10.6 billion in 1987, a 127 percent increase when adjusted for inflation. With money from bonds and the federal government included, total state spending on corrections last year was $49 billion. By 2011, the Pew report said, states are on track to spend an additional $25 billion. It cost an average of $23,876 dollars to imprison someone in 2005, the most recent year for which data were available.”

The Times article stated, “The cost of medical care is growing by 10 percent annually, the report said, and 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.”

A copy of the report, “One in 100,” is available from the CSDP research archive.

This article originally posted …: CSDP