The U.S. prison population continues to grow, in fact it continues to boom. Many people assume that the booming prison population means that crime is also booming. However, that assumption could not be further from the truth. Both violent and property crime have shrunk since the early 1990’s and are at a 50 year low. While it’s true that the U.S. experiences higher rates of crime than most developed nations, it is also true that we have made significant progress in regard to crime.
This progress does not explain why 1 in every 145 Americans is currently incarcerated. Private for-profit prisons are to blame however. Since its highest in 1991, the U.S. crime rate has been cut in nearly half. During the same time frame the country’s prison population has almost exactly doubled. Since 1980 the prison population has quadrupled. Something is clearly wrong with our justice and prison system.
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