WALL STREET JOURNAL: The almost-constant growth of the U.S. prison population during the past 30 years has pushed the number of people behind bars past a new threshold, according to a study released yesterday.With more than 2.3 million people in local jails and state and federal prisons, more than 1% of the U.S. adult population is locked up, according to the Pew Center on the States. The rate is the highest in the world, and the statistics are starker for some groups. More than 11% of the nation’s African-American men ages 20 to 34 are behind bars, the study said. The overall rate has led to among the largest increases in state spending. According to the National Association of State Budget Officers, states spent more than $44 billion in tax revenue on corrections last year, compared with $10.6 billion in 1987. MORE
AL JAZEERA: More populous China was ranked second with 1.5 million behind bars, while Russia was third with 890,000. “Beyond the sheer number of inmates, America also is the global leader in the rate at which it incarcerates its citizenry, outpacing nations like South Africa and Iran,” the report said. “Rather, it flows principally from a wave of policy choices that are sending more lawbreakers to prison and, through the popular ‘three-strikes’ measures and other sentencing enhancements, keeping them there longer,” it said.
THE PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: Correctional officials see danger in prison overcrowding. Others see opportunity. The nearly two million Americans behind bars — the majority of them nonviolent offenders — mean jobs for depressed regions and windfalls for profiteers. MORE