Some facts from Ben Trachtenberg’s article in the ABA Journal.
U.S. prisons and jails held 2,299,116 inmates, meaning more than 1 percent of American adults were incarcerated. We top the world in per capita imprisonment, increasing our lead every year. Since 2000, while the total U.S. population increased by 7 percent, our prison population has grown by 19 percent.
Read all the article for his intelligent take on the problem that needs solving and some worthwhile recommendations.
A rational criminal justice system would—while shortening sentences of certain offenders—keep others out of prison altogether. With alternative treatments and punishments, a state shrinks its prison budget, allows convicts to keep their jobs and support their families, and makes recidivism less likely.
By adopting “smart on crime” programs instead of knee-jerk toughness, states can reduce crime while spending less. Reworked federal incentives would encourage smart state policymaking. While no one supports freeing rapists and murderers, warehousing every offender wastes money, destroys lives and contributes to our shameful status as the world’s leading incarcer ator. We need Washington to reward good policy, not costly grandstanding that bankrupts our state gov ernments and confines more than one of every 100 American adults.