One in 31: The Long Reach of American Corrections

Source: Jenifer Warren, Pew Center on the States, March 2009

From the press release:
In the past two decades, state general fund spending on corrections increased by more than 300 percent, outpacing other essential government services from education, to transportation and public assistance. Only Medicaid spending has grown faster. Today, corrections imposes a national taxpayer burden of $68 billion a year. Despite this increased spending, recidivism rates have remained largely unchanged.

Research shows that strong community supervision programs for lower-risk, non-violent offenders not only cost significantly less than incarceration but, when appropriately resourced and managed, can cut recidivism by as much as 30 percent. Diverting these offenders to community supervision programs also frees up prison beds needed to house violent offenders, and can offer budget makers additional resources for other pressing public priorities.

One in 31: The Long Reach of American Corrections provides a detailed look at who is in the corrections system and which states have the highest populations of offenders behind bars and in the community. Key findings include:

• One in 31 adults in America is in prison or jail, or on probation or parole. Twenty-five years ago, the rate was 1 in 77.
• Overall, two-thirds of offenders are in the community, not behind bars. 1 in 45 adults is on probation or parole and 1 in 100 is in prison or jail. The proportion of offenders behind bars versus in the community has changed very little over the past 25 years, despite the addition of 1.1 million prison beds.
• Correctional control rates are highly concentrated by race and geography: 1 in 11 black adults (9.2 percent) versus 1 in 27 Hispanic adults (3.7 percent) and 1 in 45 white adults (2.2 percent); 1 in 18 men (5.5 percent) versus 1 in 89 women (1.1 percent). The rates can be extremely high in certain neighborhoods. In one block-group of Detroit’s East Side, for example, 1 in 7 adult men (14.3 percent) is under correctional control.
• Georgia, where 1 in 13 adults is behind bars or under community supervision, leads the top five states that also include Idaho, Texas, Massachusetts, Ohio and the District of Columbia.
See also:
50 state fact sheets

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