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New Study Reveals U.S. Holds One-Fourth of Prisoners Worldwide

criminal law, Illinois criminal defense lawyer, incarceration, National Research Council, people incarcerated, prison costs, prisoners worldwide, rising crime rates, shocking statistics, U.S. inmatesA new report, published by the National Research Council, has revealed some shocking statistics about the increase in how many prisoners there are in the U.S. Yet despite the dramatic increases, the report also classifies any effect this country’s policies on crime have had as “highly uncertain.”

According to the report, between the years 1973 to 2009, the number of inmates in this country increased from 200,000 to 2.2 million. Currently, the U.S. has almost 25 percent of the number of prisoners being held worldwide. Yet the U.S. only has five percent of the world’s population.

Although the numbers show that the number of people incarcerated has risen, they also reveal the lack of any consistent pattern in crime rates. In the 35 year time frame the researchers studied, violent crime rates increased and fell several times. In their report, the study’s authors offered this explanation:

“The best single proximate explanation of the rise in incarceration is not rising crime rates, but the policy choices made by legislators to greatly increase the use of imprisonment as a response to crime. Since the 1970s, these policies have come to include the war on drugs, mandatory minimums for drug crimes and violent offenses, three-strikes laws and ‘truth-in-sentencing’ mandates that require inmates to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences.”

The marked increase in the number of inmates being held has caused both financial costs, as well as social costs. And for most of the country, prison costs are the number three highest expenditures in state budgets, following Medicaid and education costs.

The study also cites how this increase has affected society, especially within the black and Hispanic populations. In the last year of the study, 2009, 62 percent of black children with parents who had not obtained a high school diploma had one parent who had been sent to prison. For white children, that number was only 15 percent. The authors also report that in 2011, 60 percent of the entire prison population was either black or Hispanic.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced DuPage County criminal defense attorney to make sure that your constitutional rights are represented in the courtroom.

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