Crime Is Down, Yet The US Prison Population Keeps On Rising The Charts. Why?

By James Lewis posted 19 days ago


The federal penal population is among the highest globally, roughly 2.2 million adults- this means just under a quarter of the global prison population is breathing life in the US prison facilities. This statement goes directly against the country's justice authority's sentiment, who champion the idea of reducing their incarceration rate. 

A broader gaze on the narrative will tell us that 1 in every 100 American citizens is doing time behind bars. This is remarkably higher than Europe and the rest of the world. Criminologists and former government officials have admitted the system has crossed the line where incarceration can be justified for social benefits. Instead, the overcrowding of prison facilities throughout the country represents social injustice.

It is hard to read the underlying causes for these fast-rising incarceration rates from a distance. However, a detailed study indicates that the following issues have contributed significantly to the cause.

  1. CrimePolitics
  2. Social Change

The offender search nationwide support has provided that most inmates in federal prisons are from undernourished sections of the democracy. It is not hard to realize their roots and how they have crossed law and order. Disproportionately minority, these inmates are mostly men under their 40s. Lack of education, drug and alcohol addictions, poor health, less employment- all of these issues are a recurring theme among them.

It would be foolish to consider that the country's rising population has contributed to more prison admission, as the incarceration rate has skyrocketed. Back in the 70s and in the 80s, there was a big boom in the crime rate, leading to updating the policing strategies and penal policies. This development is directly reflected in the rapidly filling federal prison facilities. Adding to this new look approach, the government issued stricter charges, resulting in extended incarceration. Even in present times, the standard duration of imprisonment for common offenses have gone north.

Multiple state jurisdiction systems have even dropped the need for an indeterminate sentencing system. In other places, the charged-individual has to serve 85% of his sentence before applying to qualify for parole. This, therefore, has been a direct knockdown to early parole releases.

Similarly, the idea of incarceration has become a common choice for less-serious crimes in recent times. A critical analysis of the prison admission records from 1982 to 2002 tells us that prison sentencing for violence offenders jumped from 30% to 70% while drug offenders saw a 550% high jump. 

The rapid rise in incarceration rate across the federal prison can be credited to a heavily encouraged penal political system. This system was conceived into reality to address rising crime and social change. It brought necessary criminal policy changes, resulting in extended sentence lengths and strict punishments for less-serious offenses. 

The dividing line between incarceration, crime, social discrimination, and other variable have gotten complex over time. Putting more faith in imprisonment has reduced crime in the country. But the over-reliance on the same is alarming for the future.

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