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Zer Netmouse
February 6th, 2009
04:27 pm

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Staying aware of how many of our people are in prison
In this newsletter, the Ohio criminal justice services office quotes a federal report (released in December 2008,
a Bureau of Justice Statistics bulletin, Prisoners in 2007)to note these facts:

  • The total number of
    prisoners under the jurisdiction of
    Federal or State adult correctional
    authorities was 1,598,316 at the end
    of 2007. Nearly 93 percent were
    males and 7.2 percent were females.

  • The rate of incarceration in prison at
    the end of 2007 was 506 sentenced
    inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents, a
    rate equivalent to about 1 in every
    198 U.S. residents serving a prison
    term of over one year.

  • The incarceration rate for females in 2007
    was 69 per 100,000 population. For
    males, the incarceration rate was 955
    per 100,000 population.

  • In 2007, Black males had an
    imprisonment rate of 3,138 per
    100,000 U.S. residents, compared to
    a rate of 481 for White males and
    1,259 for Hispanic or Latino males.

  • Black females had an imprisonment
    rate of 150 per 100,000 U.S.
    residents, compared to a rate of 50
    per 100,000 for White females and
    79 per 100,000 for Hispanic or
    Latino females.



    I note that they did the math for the general rate of imprisonment, but not for males or black males especially. Note that the male population in general, we had the equivalent of roughly 1 in 105 of our men serving a year in prison in 2007, and for black men in particular that came to 1 out of 32.

    *shakes head*

    That seems pretty high to me. I have to wonder, as a society, if we can't do better than that.

(14 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments
 
[User Picture]
From:nwhyte
Date:February 6th, 2009 09:49 pm (UTC)
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Just to cheer you up, according to Wikipedia:
In absolute terms, the United States currently has the largest inmate population in the world, with more than 2½ million or more than one in a hundred adults in prison and jails. Although the United States represents less than 5% of the world's population, over 25% of the people incarcerated around the world are housed in the American prison system.

[User Picture]
From:autopope
Date:February 6th, 2009 09:50 pm (UTC)
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For comparison: the UK has roughly 83,000 in prison, out of a population of 60 million -- in other words, 1 in 720, or one-seventh the US incarceration rate.

And the UK jails more people than any other country in the EU.
[User Picture]
From:dd_b
Date:February 6th, 2009 09:54 pm (UTC)
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Sure, all we have to do is drop the war on drugs.

I suppose it might help if we let the South secede after all, too.
[User Picture]
From:autopope
Date:February 6th, 2009 10:01 pm (UTC)
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The War on Drugs isn't enough.

Assuming 75% of the US prison population are there for drug-related offenses, you could end the WoD and release all of them ... and you'd still have a per-capita imprisonment rate about 2-3 times higher than the EU norm (and 50% higher than the UK, with its barking mad surveillance state and jail-em-and-let-em-rot penal policy).

Something's gone wrong. I suspect prison labour and racial intimidation have something to do with it. That, and the absence of psychiatric in-patient care facilities. (Many schizophrenics self-medicate; given the WoD, that makes them criminals.)

Edited at 2009-02-06 10:02 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:dd_b
Date:February 6th, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC)
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Okay, but why assume that number? I've heard 90% and higher frequently suggested as the number (don't remember if anybody has actually produced a number based to some extent on real information).

Also, lots of violence is related to the illegality of drugs, some of those people won't have been specifically convicted of drug-law violations, and yet wouldn't be in prison without the WOSD.

Does your barking mad surveillance state contribute to the prison population? I thought I'd seen the police quoted as saying it hasn't helped solve crimes. You probably just need better surveillance cameras, like the ones all the cities and private stores use in the TV shows, where you can expand a license plate out of a corner of the street scene big enough to read.
[User Picture]
From:dd_b
Date:February 6th, 2009 10:21 pm (UTC)
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On the other hand, a stop-the-drug-war outfit at http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle-old/409/toohigh.shtml claims numbers around 50%.
[User Picture]
From:netmouse
Date:February 7th, 2009 04:37 pm (UTC)
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There's also the fact that a single conviction makes it harder to get work, and not being able to get honest work contributes to the tendency to use criminal means to support oneself, and then there are effects of children being raised in single parent or foster homes because their parents are imprisoned and/or, on release, can't get work. Secondary effects of the war on drugs are probably responsible for at least as many convictions as direct drug-related charges.
[User Picture]
From:minnehaha
Date:February 6th, 2009 10:37 pm (UTC)
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Remember that one of the two major political parties in this country sees felony conviction as a reasonable voter supression tactic.

B
[User Picture]
From:rmeidaking
Date:February 6th, 2009 10:04 pm (UTC)
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How would you solve the problem?
[User Picture]
From:netmouse
Date:February 7th, 2009 04:31 pm (UTC)
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As DDB mentioned, one serious contributor to the problem is the "war on drugs", which especially puts blacks in jail and subsequently on the path to prison (many of the laws against drugs were initially designed to target blacks, and they continue to do so).

I would definitely remove all laws about drugs in which the victim of the crime is oneself (possession of small personal amounts, ingestion without subsequent endangerment of others, operation of machinery, etc), and completely legalize marijuana including the selling of it, as well as other drugs in accordance with the findings of a panel of experts (which would need to be put together and based on physiologic effects of the drugs ( how addictive they are and how harmful) as well as the statistics indicating whether or not they are directly responsible for harm to others).
[User Picture]
From:cos
Date:February 6th, 2009 10:34 pm (UTC)
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I'm sure you know we can do better than that.
[User Picture]
From:minnehaha
Date:February 6th, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC)
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"That seems pretty high to me. I have to wonder, as a society, if we can't do better than that."

The problem is that, as a society, we seem not to want to.

B
From:rachelann1977
Date:February 6th, 2009 11:50 pm (UTC)
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Also,you have to keep in mind, ever since all the mental hospitals closed, prisons, jails and streets are the only places many of those folks have left to go...........

Minorities, homeless, and the very poor with mental disorders often go either undiagnosed or undertreated, thus often end up with little or no ability to care for themselves, so you can see how this is a self-perpetuating cycle.

I'm not saying it accounts for anywhere near the whole problem, but it may be as much as a third of it, so it shouldn't be forgotten or ignored.
[User Picture]
From:netmouse
Date:February 7th, 2009 04:34 pm (UTC)
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well, yes, re-establishing mental institutions would not only reduce the prison population, it would also improve the experience of both the regular prison inmates and the ones who *should* be in mental institutions.

Personally, though, I think this needs to go hand in hand with affordable outpatient care for mental disorders, to help people live outside of institutions. New technologies for tracking patients and making for they get medicated on schedule could help with this, if people were motivated to use them.
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