Crime Rate Dropped, but Sentencing Grew Tougher

  Crime Rate Dropped, but Sentencing Grew Tougher

Posted by FoM on August 13, 2001 at 10:24:26 PT
By Ana Radelat, Gannett News Service 
Source: Cincinnati Enquirer 

The number of people behind bars in the United States grew by nearly 77 percent in the 1990s, but the rise in the nation's prison population seems to be leveling off, a Justice Department study released Sunday said.     The study of inmates in local, state, federal and private prisons said more than 2 million people were incarcerated at the end of 2000. In 2000, there were 478 prisoners serving sentences of a year or more per 100,000 U.S. residents. At the end of 1990, the number was 292 prisoners per 100,000 residents. 
   Five states — all relatively small and rural — had increases of more than 10 percent in their incarceration rates in 2000: Idaho, North Dakota, Mississippi, Vermont and Iowa.     Of the states, Louisiana had the highest incarceration rate, 801 inmates per 100,000 state residents, followed by Texas, 730, Mississippi, 688, and Oklahoma, 685. The District of Columbia's rate was 971. Minnesota and Maine had the lowest rates.     Bureau of Justice statistician Allen Beck said the increase in prisoners amid a declining crime rate could be attributed to tougher federal and state sentencing guidelines, longer sentences and a greater tendency to return parole violators to prison.     The sharpest increase in incarceration rates occurred among women. Since 1990, the number of male prisoners grew by 77 percent while the number of female prisoners increased 108 percent, the Justice Depart ment report said. However, only one in 15 prisoners is a woman.     Dan Macallair, vice president of the nonprofit Justice Policy Institute, said the increase in female prisoners could be attributed, at least in part, to the federal government's “war on drugs,” which has resulted in more incarcerations and longer jail sentences. The numbers of women in prison convicted of drug crimes rose by more than a third during the 1990s.     “Women have borne a greater burden of the drug war than men,” Mr. Macallair said, adding that they are more likely to be incarcerated for drug crimes than men.     The report also indicated that African-Americans continue to be overrepresented in prison. At the end of 2000, more than 46 percent of sentenced inmates were black males, and nearly one in 10 black men ages 25 to 29 was imprisoned.     The number of youths behind bars also grew from 93,732 in 1990 to 108,965 at the end of 2000, despite a decline in juvenile arrests and convictions.     Mr. Macallair attributed the rise in juvenile in mates to a “fear of kids” engendered by a rise in youth violence in the late 1980s that failed to result in lesser sentences when youth crime began to drop in the mid-1990s.     But the surge in prison population seems to be leveling off, Mr. Beck said.     During the final six months of 2000, the nation's state prison population declined by 6,200 inmates — the first measured decline since 1972 — Mr. Beck said.     In addition, some states experienced a decrease in incarcerations, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Texas.     Mr. Beck said the decline in Texas could be attributed to changes in parole board policies. The drop in crime could account for the shrinking inmate population in New York and other states.     Mr. Macallair said shrinking crime rates should have fostered a much greater decline in incarcerations across the nation, but the prison and justice systems are resisting.     “We have developed a huge infrastructure of prisons, ... so we can't really anticipate a dramatic drop in the numbers of prisoners,” he said. Note: Number in prison soared in 1990s. Source: Cincinnati Enquirer (OH)Author: Ana Radelat, Gannett News ServicePublished: Monday, August 13, 2001 Copyright: 2001 The Cincinnati EnquirerContact: letters enquirer.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:Justice Policy Institute of Justice Statistics State Prison Population Drops Governments Try and Fail To Stem Drugs 

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Comment #2 posted by FoM on August 13, 2001 at 15:25:16 PT

Battle at the Border - Tonight on MSNBC - 9 PM ET
Hi Everyone,I saw the preview for the program and wanted to let others know about it. I haven't found an article but if I do I'll post it. MSNBC Investigates - Battle at the Border - Tonight on MSNBC Air Time: Monday, August 13, 9 p.m. ETBattle at the BorderThere is clear evidence that the war on drugs isn’t going as planned. We visit the border crossing at San Ysidro, California, where despite the best efforts of customs officials, an estimated 80% of the drugs that come to the border get into the U.S.
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Comment #1 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on August 13, 2001 at 10:47:28 PT:

Prisons Will Require Inmates
The current situation suggests: Build the prisons and they will infract.This industry is one of the main lobbyists against drug war reform.
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