So much for the “war on crime”: According to a new report from the Pew Center on the States, 1 in 100 American adults is now in jail. The report states that “current prison growth is not driven primarily by a parallel increase in crime, or a corresponding surge in the population at large”; instead, “it flows principally from a wave of policy choices that are sending more lawbreakers to prison and ... keeping them there longer.”
The New York Times:
Incarceration rates are even higher for some groups. One in 36 Hispanic adults is behind bars, based on Justice Department figures for 2006. One in 15 black adults is, too, as is one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34.
The report, from the Pew Center on the States, also found that only one in 355 white women between the ages of 35 and 39 are behind bars but that one in 100 black women are.
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.
Either way, said Susan Urahn, the center’s managing director, “we aren’t really getting the return in public safety from this level of incarceration.”