Corrections in the US
Think about it:
- 6,937,600 people in the U.S. are under some form of criminal justice supervision (incarcerated, on parole, or probation).
- The U.S. criminalizes more acts than any other country in the world. The U.S. criminalizes acts that in other countries would require community service or drug treatment or would not be considered a crime at all.
- Mandatory sentencing laws, “tough on crime” policies, lengthening prison terms, and a dependence on prison as our primary defense against crime have created a massive prison system. States currently spend more on prisons than they do on health, education or housing programs.
- Today, one out of every 25 males in the U.S. is under the direct supervision of the criminal justice system, either incarcerated, on parole, or on probation.
- Among young black males the number is one in three; among young Hispanic men, one in eight.
- Prison beds have been dedicated increasingly over the past decade to non-violent offenders.
- A profile of the U.S. prison population shows high rates of drug and alcohol problems, under-education, unemployment, and a high incidence of AIDS. A large percentage have parents, siblings, or children who have served time.
- More than 2.7 million children in the U.S. have a parent behind bars.
- Although most people “age out of crime”, U.S. prisons are becoming the largest “geriatric wards” in the world. In 1994, California incarcerated 5000 people over the age of 50. Since 1990, the prison population over the age of 55 has increased by 550%, to 144,500.
- Billions of dollars have gone from the public treasury into private corporations to design, build, and maintain prisons. This has happened while 22% of children in the U.S. live in poverty.
- Over 10% of federal and state inmates, nearly 160,000 people, are serving a life sentence. 10,000 of them convicted of nonviolent offenses.
- 47% of people incarcerated in state prisons in 2011 were convicted of non-violent drug, property, or public order crimes. People convicted of drug offenses were 17% of state inmates in 2010, and 48% of federal prison inmates in 2011.
- More than 94% of the prison population will eventually be released from prison and return to our communities. Will their experience in prison have made them better neighbors and more contributing members of the community? Or will they return to their community and their families more violent and abusive than when they left? Prison policy will significantly influence the way many will go. The Lionheart Foundation’s Houses of Healing Program, established in hundreds of programs in prisons across the U.S., has helped thousands of incarcerated men and women turn their lives around.