News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.
Thursday, May 27, 2004
News: One in 75 American men an inmate
The U.S. Justice Department reports that this country, which has long had the highest population of prisoners in the world, increased the number of people behind bars by 2.3 percent in 2003. Now, one in 75 American men is incarcerated in a prison or jail. The Associated Press has the story.
Attorney General John Ashcroft says that the huge prison population consists of hard-core prisoners. But, most research on the topic suggests otherwise. The most common reason for longterm imprisonment in the United States is drug offenses -- not aggravated assaults or homicides.
Inmates are usually male, though incarceration rates for women have increased during the last decades. Prisoners are disproportionately young and members of minority groups.
Experts say the most telling criterion for crime rates is the proportion of young males in the population.
An important issue the data does not shed light on is whether high incarceration rates for minorities is evidence of higher rates of crime, a discriminatory criminal justice system, or a combination of the two. Some researchers believe the latter is a more accurate conclusion in regard to drug crimes.posted by J. | 7:18 PM