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Incarceration in the United States

Incarceration in the United States
Incarceration is one of the main forms of punishment for the commission of felony offenses in the United States. Less serious offenders, including those convicted of misdemeanor offenses, may be sentenced to a short term in a local jail or with alternative forms of sanctions such as community corrections (halfway house), house arrest, probation, and/or restitution. In the United States, prisons are operated at various levels of security, ranging from minimum-security prisons that mainly house non-violent offenders to Supermax facilities that house well-known criminals and terrorists such as Terry Nichols, Theodore Kaczynski, Eric Rudolph, Zacarias Moussaoui, and Richard Reid. The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate,[3][4] and total documented prison population in the world.[5][6] As of year-end 2007, a record 7.2 million people were behind bars, on probation or on parole. Of the total, 2.3 million were incarcerated.[7] More than 1 in 100 American adults were incarcerated at the start of 2008. The People’s Republic of China ranks second with 1.5 million, while having four times the population, thus having only about 18% per the US incarceration rate.[8][9]

Over 7.2 million adults on probation or parole or incarcerated in jail or prison in 2006. That’s about 3.2% of the U.S. adult population, or 1 in every 31 adults.[1][2]

The federal government, states, counties, and many individual cities have facilities to confine people. Generally, "prison" refers to facilities for holding convicted felons (offenders who commit crimes where the sentence is more than one year). Individuals awaiting trial, being held pending citations for non-custodial offenses, and those convicted of misdemeanors (crimes which carry a sentence of less than one year), are generally held in county jails. In most states, cities operate small jail facilities, sometimes simply referred to as "lock-ups", used only for very short-term incarceration—can be held for up to 72 business hours or up to five days—until the prisoner comes before a judge for the first time or receives a citation or summons before being released or transferred to a larger jail. Some states have "unified" systems,

Incarceration in the United States is a concurrent power under the Constitution of the United States, which means that prisons are operated under strict authority of both the federal and state governments.


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in which all the jails and prisons are operated by the state. The federal government also operates various "detention centers" in major urban areas or near federal courthouses to hold criminal defendants appearing in federal court. Many of the smaller county and city jails do not classify prisoners (that is, there is no separation by offense type and other factors). While some of these small facilities operate as "close security" facilities, to prevent prisoner-on-prisoner violence and increase overall security, others may put many prisoners into the same cells without regard to the criminal histories of the prisoners. Other local jails are large and have many different security levels. For example, one of the largest jails in the United States is Cook County Jail in Cook County (located in Chicago). This facility has eleven different divisions (including one medical unit and two units for women prisoners), each classified at a different security level, ranging from dormitory style open housing to super-secure lock-down. In California, to prevent violence, prisoners are segregated by race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation while held in county jails and in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s reception centers, where newly committed prisoners are assessed prior to being transferred to their "mainline" (longterm) institutions.

Incarceration in the United States
Many legislatures continued to reduce discretion in both the sentencing process and the determination of when the conditions of a sentence have been satisfied. Determinate sentencing, use of mandatory minimums, and guidelines-based sentencing continue to remove the human element from sentencing, such as the prerogative of the judge to consider the mitigating or extenuating circumstances of a crime to determine the appropriate length of the incarceration. As the consequence of "three strikes laws," the increase in the duration of incarceration in the last decade was most pronounced in the case of life prison sentences, which increased by 83% between 1992 and 2003 [3][4].

Security levels
Prisoners reside in different facilities that vary by security level, especially in security measures, administration of inmates, type of housing, and weapons and tactics used by corrections officers. The federal government’s Bureau of Prisons uses a numbered scale from one to five to represent the security level. Level five is the most secure, while level one is the least. State prison systems operate similar systems. California, for example, classifies its facilities from Reception Center through Levels I through V (minimum to maximum security) to specialized high security units (all considered Level V) including Security Housing Unit (SHU)—California’s version of supermax—and related units. As a general rule, county jails, detention centers, and reception centers, where new commitments are first held either while awaiting trial or before being transferred to "mainline" institutions to serve out their sentences, operate at a relatively high level of security, usually close security or higher. Supermax prison facilities provide the highest level of prison security. These units hold those considered the most dangerous inmates. These include inmates who have committed assaults, murders, or other serious violations in less secure facilities, and inmates known to be or accused of being prison gang members. Most states have either a supermax section of a prison facility or an entire prison facility designated as a supermax. The United States Federal Bureau of Prisons operates a number of supermax facilities across the country.

Duration of incarceration
A judge sentences a person convicted of a crime. The length of the prison term depends upon multiple factors including the severity and type of the crime, state and/or federal sentencing guidelines, the convicted’s criminal record, and the personal discretion of the judge. These factors may be different in each state and in the federal system as well. The vast majority of criminal convictions arise from plea bargains, in which an agreement is made between prosecutors and defense counsel for the defendant to plead guilty to a lesser charge for a lesser sentence than they would receive if found guilty at trial. Some prisoners are given life sentences. In some states, a life sentence means life, without the possibility of parole. In other states, people with life sentences are eligible for parole. In some cases the death penalty may be applied.


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One Federal supermax is deserving of special note: ADX Florence, located in Florence, Colorado, also known as the "Alcatraz of the Rockies", widely considered to be perhaps the most secure prison in the United States. ADX Florence has a standard supermax section where assaultive, violent, and gang-related inmates are kept under normal supermax conditions of 23 hour confinement and abridged amenities. ADX Florence is considered to be of a security level above that of all other prisons in the United States, at least in the "ideological" ultramax part of it, which features permanent 24 hour solitary confinement with no human contact or opportunity to earn better conditions through good behavior. In a maximum security prison or area, all prisoners have individual cells with sliding doors controlled from a secure remote control station. Prisoners are allowed out of their cells one out of twenty four hours. When out of their cells, prisoners remain in the cell block or an exterior cage. Movement out of the cell block or "pod" is tightly restricted using restraints and escorts by correctional officers. Under close security, prisoners usually have one or two person cells operated from a remote control station. Each cell has its own toilet and sink. Inmates may leave their cells for work assignments or correctional programs and otherwise may be allowed in a common area in the cellblock or an exercise yard. The fences are generally double fences with watchtowers, housing armed guards, plus often a third, lethal-current electric fence in the middle. Prisoners that fall into the medium security group may sleep in dormitories on bunk beds with lockers to store their possessions. They may have communal showers, toilets and sinks. Dormitories are locked at night with one or more correctional officers supervising. There is less supervision over the internal movements of prisoners. The perimeter is generally double fenced and regularly patrolled. Prisoners in minimum security facilities are considered to pose little physical risk to the public and are mainly non-violent "white collar criminals". Minimum security prisoners live in less-secure dormitories, which are regularly patrolled by correctional officers. As in medium security facilities, they have communal showers, toilets, and sinks. A

Incarceration in the United States
minimum-security facility generally has a single fence that is watched, but not patrolled, by armed guards. At facilities in very remote and rural areas, there may be no fence at all. Prisoners may often work on community projects, such as roadside litter cleanup with the state department of transportation or wilderness conservation. Many minimum security facilities are small camps located in or near military bases, larger prisons (outside the security perimeter) or other government institutions to provide a convenient supply of convict labor to the institution. Many states allow persons in minimum-security facilities access to the internet.

Incarceration rate
American prisons and jails held 2,299,116 inmates as of June 30, 2007.[10] One in every 31 American adults, or 7.3 million Americans, are in prison, on parole or probation. Approximately one in every 18 men in the United States is behind bars or being monitored. A significantly greater percentage of the American population is in some form of correctional control even though crime rates have declined by about 25 percent from 1988-2008.[11] 70% of prisoners in the United States are non-whites.[12] In recent decades the U.S. has experienced a surge in its prison population, quadrupling since 1980, partially as a result of mandated sentences that came about during the "war on drugs." Violent crime and property crime have declined since the early 1990s.[13] As of 2004, the three states with the lowest ratio of imprisoned to civilian population are Maine (148 per 100,000), Minnesota (171 per 100,000), and Rhode Island (175 per 100,000). The three states with the highest ratio are Louisiana (816 per 100,000), Texas (694 per 100,000), and Mississippi (669 per 100,000). [14] It’s worth noting, the first 3 states are among states with lowest gun death rate, while the last 3 states, particularly Louisiana and Mississippi have the highest gun death rate in the nation. [15] This suggests a close connection between gun violence and incarceration rate. Nearly one million of those incarcerated in state and federal prisons, as well as local jails, are serving time for committing non-violent crimes. [16] In 2002, 93.2% of prisoners were male. About 10.4% of all black males in the United


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Incarceration in the United States
States between the ages of 25 and 29 were sentenced and in prison, compared to 2.4% of Hispanic males and 1.3% of white males. [17] In 2005, about 1 out of every 136 U.S. residents was incarcerated either in prison or jail.[18] The total amount being 2,320,359, with 1,446,269 in state and federal prisons and 747,529 in local jails.[19] A 2005 report estimated that 27% of federal prison inmates are noncitizens, convicted of crimes while in the country legally or illegally.[20] However, federal prison inmates are only a 6 percent of the total incarcerated population; noncitizen populations in state and local prisons are more difficult to establish. The United States has the highest documented per capita rate of incarceration of any country in the world.[3][5]

Table 1 from Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2005.[21] A U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics report. According to a January 2009 OJJDP (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention) report there were 94,875 held in juvenile facilities as of October 27, 2004.[22] Add those to the total inmates.

Comparison with other countries
The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world at 738 persons in prison or jail per 100,000 (as of 2005).[19] A report released Feb. 28, 2008 indicates that more than 1 in 100 adults in the United States are in prision.[9] The United States has 5% of the world’s population and 23.6% of the world’s prison population.[3] By comparison in 2006, the incarceration rate in England and Wales was 148 persons imprisoned per 100,000 residents; the rate for Norway was 66 inmates per 100,000 and


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the rate in New Zealand was 186 per 100,000.[3] In Australia in 2005, the rate was 126 prisoners per 100,000 residents.[3] The incarceration rate in the People’s Republic of China varies depending on sources and measures: in 2003, for sentenced prisoners only, the rate was declared at 118 inmates per 100,000;[3] in 2008, an estimate for all forms of imprisonment in China assessed the incarceration rate at 218 prisoners per 100,000 population.[23] However, these figures are disputed. Chinese human rights activist Harry Wu, who spent 19 years in forced-labor camps for criticizing the government, estimates that 16 to 20 million are incarcerated, including common criminals, political prisoners, and people in involuntary job placements. Ten million prisoners would mean a rate of 793 prisoners per 100,000 citizens in the People’s Republic of China.[24]

Incarceration in the United States
prisons have a total capacity of 100,000, but they hold 170,000 inmates.[28] Many prisons in California and around the country are forced to turn old gymnasiums and classrooms into huge bunkhouses for inmates. They do this by placing hundreds of bunk beds next to one another, in these gyms, without any type of barriers to keep inmates separated. In 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States case of Cutter v. Wilkinson established that prisons that received federal funds could not deny prisoners accommodations necessary for religious practices.

In recent years, there has been much debate over the privatization of prisons. The argument for privatization stresses cost reduction, whereas the arguments against it focus on standards of care, and the question of whether a market economy for prisons might not also lead to a market demand for prisoners (tougher sentencing for cheap labor). While privatized prisons have only a short history, there is a long tradition of inmates in state and federal-run prisons undertaking active employment in prison for low pay. Some advantages of private prisons have been cited. These include flexibility, including the ability to terminate a contract more easily and cost-effectively than it would be to close down a government prison and lay off civil servants in the event of a decline in prison population. Private prisons also have an incentive to look for ways to save on costs; for instance, Travis Snelling of the Corrections Corporation of America notes that his prisons are designed to save on labor, which represents 70% of the total costs over the useful life of a prison. This is particularly important given that posts must often be manned 24 hours a day, requiring more than five employees to cover all the shifts. Snelling estimates: "If you can eliminate one post by your architectural design, just one, that’ll save you well over $100,000 in a given marketplace, as far as labor is concerned."[29] The three leading corporations in the private prison business in the U.S. are the Corrections Corporation of America, the GEO Group, and Cornell Companies. Private companies which provide services to prisons combine in the American

Prison conditions
The non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch raised concerns with prisoner rape and medical care for inmates.[25] In a survey of 1,788 male inmates in Midwestern prisons by Prison Journal, about 21% claimed they had been coerced or pressured into sexual activity during their incarceration, and 7% claimed that they had been raped in their current facility.[26] In August 2003, a Harper’s article by Wil S. Hylton estimated that "somewhere between 20 and 40% of American prisoners are, at this very moment, infected with hepatitis C". Prisons may outsource medical care to private companies such as Correctional Medical Services, which, according to Hylton’s research, try to minimize the amount of care given to prisoners in order to maximize profits. Also identified as an issue within the prison system is gang violence, because many gang members retain their gang identity and affiliations when imprisoned. Segregation of identified gang members from the general population of inmates, with different gangs being housed in separate units often results in the imprisonment of these gang members with their friends and criminal cohorts. Some feel this has the effect of turning prisons into "institutions of higher criminal learning."[27] Many prisons in the United States are overcrowded. For example, California’s 33


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Correctional Association, which advocates legislation favorable to the industry. Such private companies comprise what has been termed the Prison-industrial complex.

Incarceration in the United States

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act
The system that we currently operate under in the United States was created under the 1974 Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act called for a "deinstitutionalization" of juvenile delinquents. It required that states holding youth within adult prisons for status offenses remove them within a span of two years (this timeframe was adjusted over time). The act also provided program grants to states, based on their youth populations, and created the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Through reauthorization amendments, additional programs have been added to the original Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. The following list highlights a few of these additions: 1977 - Programs were developed to assist learning disabled children that entered the juvenile justice system. 1984 - A new missing and exploited children program was added. 1984 - Strong support was given to programs that strengthened families. 1988 - Studies on prison conditions within the Indian justice system. 1990 - The OJJDP began funding child abuse training programs to instruct judicial personnel and prosecutors. 1992 - A juvenile boot camp program was designed to introduce delinquent youth to a lifestyle of structure and discipline. 1992 - A community prevention grants program gave start-up money to communities for local juvenile crime prevention plans[34].

The percentage of prisoners in federal and state prisons aged 55 and older increased by 33% from 2000 to 2005 while the prison population grew by only 8%. The Southern Legislative Conference found that in 16 southern states the elderly prisoner population increased on average by 145% between 1997 and 2007. The growth in the elderly population brought along higher health care costs, most notably seen in the 10% average increase in state prison budgets from 2005 to 2006. The SLC expects the percentage of elderly prisoners relative to the overall prison population to continue to rise. Ronald Aday, a professor of aging studies at Middle Tennessee State University and author of Aging Prisoners: Crisis in American Corrections, concurs. One out of six prisoners in California is serving a life sentence. Aday predicts that by 2020 16% percent of those serving life sentences will be elderly.[30][31] Inmates are unable to apply for Medicare and Medicaid. Housing one prisoner costs a state between $18,000 and $31,000 annually, $33 per day for the average prisoner and $100 per day for an elderly prisoner. Most DOCs report spending more than 10 percent of the annual budget on elderly care. State governments pay all of their inmates’ housing costs which significantly increase as prisoners age.[30][31]

Youth incarceration
Through the juvenile courts and the adult criminal justice system, the United States incarcerates more of its youth than any other country in the world, a reflection of the larger trends in incarceration practices in the United States. On any given day more than 126,000 youth are serving time in jails and prisons based on rates from the year 2007[32] . Approximately 500,000—half a million—youth are brought to detention centers in a given year[33] .

Current trends
Recently, forty seven states have made it easier to be tried as an adult[35] , calling attention to the growing trend away from the original model for treatment of juveniles in the justice system. A recent study of pretrial services for youth tried as adults in 18 of the country’s largest jurisdictions found that the decision to try young offenders as adults was made much more often by legislators and prosecutors (at a rate of 85%) than by judges, the people originally endowed with the responsibility for such discretion[36] .


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The decreasing distinction between how youth and adults are tried in the criminal justice system has caused many within the legal system, as well as other activists and organizers, to be critical of the juvenile justice system. The “tough on crime” attitudes of these recent legislative events reflect the popularity of such a stance in public opinion. This is true of the majority of criminal justice reform policies of the past couple decades, including California’s infamous Three Strikes Law. Criminal justice—-and in particular juvenile justice—-reform battles are often fought in the court of public opinion. The popular news media have played a crucial role in promoting the myth of a new generation of young “super-predators” threatening the public [37]. Despite documented decreases in youth crime--especially in violent crime indicating a 68% decline in youth homicide in the 1990s — overall media coverage of youth crime is increasing [38]. Despite evidence to the contrary, 62% of respondents to a 1999 survey on youth delinquency believed that youth crime was up[39] . Advocates for juvenile justice reform focus considerable attention on amending public opinion and adjusting the gap between what threats people perceive and the reality of youth offending.

Incarceration in the United States
population, but were arrested at rates double those for Caucasian youths [41]. The trend towards adult adjudication has had implications for the racial make-up of the juvenile prison population as well. Minority youth tried in adult courts are much more likely to be sentenced to serve prison time than white youth offenders arrested for similar crimes[42] . Harmful to youth: Juvenile detention facilities are often overcrowded and understaffed[43] . The most infamous example of this trend is Cheltenham center in Maryland, which at one point crowded 100 boys into cottages sanctioned for maximum capacity of 24, with only 3-4 adults supervising. Young people in these environments are subject to brutal violence from their peers as well as staff, who are often overworked, underpaid and under stress. The violence that incarcerated youth experience —- fights, stabbings, rapes -— is well known to those who work in the criminal justice system, and those who oppose it [44]. Congregating delinquent youth has a negative impact on behavior – it actually serves to make them more deviant and more of a threat to themselves and others. Social scientists call the phenomenon “peer delinquency training”, and have found significantly higher levels of substance abuse, school difficulties, delinquency, violence, and adjustment difficulties in adulthood for offenders detained in congregated settings versus those that were offered treatment in another setting [45] . Incarceration can aggravate mental illness. According to detention center administrators who testified to United States Congress in a 2004 Special Investigation by the House of Representatives, many incarcerated youth could have avoided incarceration had they received mental health treatment, [46]. Detention centers do not promote normal cognitive and emotional development. A recent report indicated that for up to one-third of incarcerated youth suffering from depression, the onset of depression occurred after their transfer to a detention center [47]. These youth face a greater risk of self-injury and suicide. Researchers have found that incarcerated youth engage in self-injurious behaviors at a rate two to four times higher than the general youth population [48]. Furthermore, prison administrative policy often intensifies the risk by responding to suicidal

Criticism of juvenile justice
Critics of the juvenile justice system, like those in the wider prison abolition movement, identify three main markers of the system for critique and reform. They hold that the juvenile justice system is unjust, ineffective, and counter-productive in terms of fulfilling the promise of the prison system, namely the protection of the public from violent offenders. Unjust: Critics of the juvenile justice system believe that the system is unfairly stacked against minority youth. Minority youth are disproportionately represented in incarcerated populations relative to their representation in the general population. A recent report from the National Council on Crime and delinquency found that minority youth are treated more severely than white youth at every point of contact with the system—-from arrest, to detention, to adjudication, to incarceration-—even when charged with the same crime[40] . In 1995 , African American youths made up 12% of the


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threats in ways that endanger the detainees, such as putting them in solitary confinement [49]. Detained youth with special needs often fail to return to school upon release. Among those young students receiving remedial education during their detention, roughly 43% do not return to school. Among those that do re-enroll, between two-thirds to three-quarters drop out within a year. Not only does this pose a serious threat to the ex-offender’s well-being —- high school drop-outs face high unemployment, poor health, shorter life spans, and low income —- it also poses a threat to public safety. According to the United States Department of Education, high school drop-outs are 3.5 times more likely to than high school graduates to be arrested[50]. Formally incarcerated youth face less success in the labor market. On average youth that have spent any amount of time in a youth detention facility work 3-5 weeks less than the average employee over the course of a year. Their interrupted education makes them less competitive, and their experience of incarceration may change them into less stable employees. This lack of success in the workplace is a threat to personal well-being as well as to communities whose youth are incarcerated in large numbers, such as African Americans [51]. Ineffective: Studies indicate that incarcerating young offenders is not the most effective way of curbing delinquency and reducing crime. The relationship between detention of young offenders and the rate of overall youth criminality is not evident. A study of Federal Bureau of Investigations arrest data for the 1990s reveals that the rise in detention was unrelated to crime rates. That is, detention as a tactic of controlling young offenders has little to nothing to do with the rate of crime or the “threat” that youth pose to the public[52] . While there may be an individual need to incarcerate violent or high-risk youth, most of the young people in prisons, jails and detention centers today – up to 70%-- are serving time for nonviolent offenses [53]. Not all delinquent youth are incarcerated—in fact, as many as one-third of all Americans might engage in delinquent behavior at some point in their youth. But those that are detained or imprisoned are less likely to grow out of their delinquency than those that are not. Criminologists recognize a

Incarceration in the United States
natural process of desistance called “aging out” of delinquency, through which a person desists their delinquent behavior through maturation and experience. Detaining or incarcerating youth can interrupt or slow down the aging out process, resulting in a longer period of delinquency[54]. The harm done to the emotional, mental and social development of incarcerated youth, combined with the separation from family and community and the congregation of offenders makes previous incarceration the leading indicator for a repeat offence among young offenders[55] . It is a greater predictor even than weapon possession, gang membership and bad relationships with parents [56]. What these studies tell us is that, far from increasing the public safety and curbing youth crime, detaining and incarcerating young offenders is actually leading to more criminality among youth, and more serious crimes. As the country grapples with the impact of a growing recession, a cost-benefit analysis of our criminal justice system is especially germane. The cost effectiveness of detention and incarceration scores very low compared with alternative approaches to youth delinquency in a cost-benefit analysis. A 2002 government commissioned study in Washington State revealed that for every one dollar spent on juvenile detention systems, a benefit return of $1.98 in terms of reduced crime and cost of crime to taxpayers was achieved. They found benefit returns ranging from $3.36- $13 for a series of detention alternatives[57] . This study indicates that alternative models are more effective in reducing youth offending in practical and economic terms.

The movement to end youth incarceration
The movement to reduce and end youth incarceration is a widespread collection of thousands of activists, lawyers, community organizers, educators, artists, and youth working on specific legislative and localized initiatives. Movement goals include shutting down particularly bad prisons and detention centers, demanding better treatment for youth in the system, providing and demanding better representation for young people in court, affecting legislation to curb youth incarceration, working to abolish arrest warrants for


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young people, and promoting alternatives to incarceration. There are national organizations and local ones, opposition from inside the criminal justice system and from outside of it. The movement is diverse in many ways, and is difficult to encapsulate in a single entry. Listed below are some examples of movement struggles:

Incarceration in the United States
That same year the filthy conditions, brutal violence and chronic understaffing earned the center a citation as “the worst in the nation”[5] by The New York Times. In 1999, even after the federal government had taken over partial responsibility for improving conditions, things were so unsafe for the youth that the staff of the center walked out, leaving 400 boys completely unsupervised. Youth and adult activists appealed to the state legislature to shut down the prison once and for all. But their aspirations didn’t stop with the abolition of one prison—they sought to redefine the juvenile justice system in the state, to change it from one based almost entirely on incarceration and punishment to a new system focusing on community-based alternatives to incarceration[59] . In 2003 the state of Louisiana became nationally recognized for its leadership in reforming a broken juvenile justice system. With the passage of the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2003 (Act 1225), then Governor Kathleen Blanco and the Louisiana State Legislature ushered in a period of reform in which the notoriously brutal Tallulah prison for youth was shut down, conditions were improved in other abusive youth prisons throughout the state, and a commitment was made to both the increased use of alternatives to incarceration for youth and to revamping secure care prisons to be small, therapeutic facilities that were regionalized to keep children closer to their families. Before the passage of Act 1225, over two thousand children were held in prison in Louisiana. Today the system holds just over 500 children state-wide. In 1998 the rate of recidivism, or children returning to prison after release, was 56% as compared to 11% today. This decrease in the number of children incarcerated has contributed to an increase in public safety[6]. Proposition 21 in California In 2001 California residents passed Proposition 21, a multi-faceted proposition designed to be tough on youth crime, incorporating many youth offenders into the adult criminal justice jurisdiction. Opponents to this law included activists from Californians for Justice, Critical Resistance, the Youth Force Coalition, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union. Advocates in the ACLU challenged many portions of the

Examples of opposition movement struggles to end youth incarceration
The Maryland campaign to Close Cheltenham The Cheltenham Juvenile Detention Center in Maryland was one of the nation’s most infamous prisons for boys. Started in 1872 as the House of Reformation for Colored Boys, Cheltenham was home to a wildly overrepresented population of minority youth. But the racial injustice inside the notorious prison was not what ultimately led to its demise. The conditions at Cheltenham were deplorable. Overcrowded and understaffed, Cheltenham was also flagged by fire safety inspectors as one of the least safe buildings in the state. The antiquated prison structure—each cell had to be individually unlocked, and at times prison staff could not present keys to some cells—was also the site of an enormous amount of brutality and violence. Local citizens in the Maryland Juvenile Justice Coalition developed the Maryland Campaign to Close Cheltenham in 2001. The campaign involved parents of incarcerated youth, youth activists, and faith leaders from across the state. Through a targeted media campaign to shift public opinion, the Campaign succeed in passing legislation through the annual budget to phase out and close Cheltenham, and to increase state spending on community-based alternative programs for youth offenders [58]. Taking on Tallulah in Louisiana The Tallulah Correction Center for Youth in Louisiana had been open for only three years when it was first sued by the United States Department of Justice (in collaboration with local activists in the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana) for violating the civil rights of youth held in its confines—marking the first time in U.S. history that the federal government has actively sued a state over the conditions of its juvenile detention facilities.


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law, including a provision automatically sentencing youth 14-17 years old in adult court. This portion of the law was struck down by the California Courts of Appeal in 2001 [7]. Opposing zero-tolerance policies The term "zero tolerance" is not defined in law or regulation; nor is there a single widely accepted practice definition. The United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, defined zero tolerance as "a policy that mandates predetermined consequences or punishments for specified offenses" [60]. The purpose of zerotolerance policies, according to their proponents, is to send a message that certain kinds of behaviors are not tolerable on school grounds. About 94% of public schools in the United States have zero-tolerance policies for guns; 91% for other weapons; 88% for drugs; 87% for alcohol and 79% for tobacco[61] . Opposition to zero-tolerance policies, especially at the local level, focus on critiques including charges that the program is discriminatory, unconstitutional, harmful to schools and students, ineptly implemented, and provides harsh punishment (suspension of education) for minor offenses (possession of tobacco). A few infamous cases have been used by opposition groups, such as Amnesty International, to further their case against the policy. The Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice released a story in 2003 about a 13 year old girl in Tuscaloosa, Alabama arrested and detained for 5 weeks for possession of what was thought to be marijuana, but turned out to be oregano[8]. The zero-tolerance practice in Illinois of sending any youth charged with drug crimes within 1,000 feet of any school or public housing project directly to adult court has resulted in the largest racial disparity in the country—over 99% of youth affected by this policy were minority youth [62]. Opposition to zero-tolerance policies nationwide and locally is broad and growing. Organizational leadership has been provided nationally by Amnesty International and the American Bar Association, who has officially opposed such policies since 2001[63]. Promoting alternatives -- The JDAI Most activists in the movement to end youth incarceration believe that the best way to mitigate the impact of detention and

Incarceration in the United States
incarceration on our youth is to reduce the number of youth that pass through the system. By providing credible alternatives to incarceration, this portion of the movement provides opportunities for communities to treat, rather than punish, young offenders-—much the way that the juvenile justice system was founded to do. The largest actor in this segment of the movement is the JDAI- The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative. The JDAI is a privatepublic partnership being implemented nationwide, with pilot programs in California, Oregon, New Mexico and Illinois. Their goal is to make sure that locked detention is used only when absolutely necessary. Their approach is multi-faceted, including multiple emphases on: Inter-governmental collaboration; reliance on data; creation and implementation of objective admissions screening for detention facilities; expedited case processing to reduce pretrial detention; improved handling of “special cases”; express strategies to reduce racial disparities; improving the conditions of confinement; and researching, testing, and endorsing alternatives to confinement. Alternatives to confinement are sensitive to family and culture, and treatment is often built around the strengths of the youth and their families. Alternative treatment methods might include any combination of the following, as well as other approaches: diversion, mentorship, Aggression Replacement Training, Functional Family Therapy, and multisystemic therapy. The JDAI has produced some promising results from their programs. Detention center populations fell by between 14% and 88% in JDAI counties over the course of 7 years 1996-2003). These same counties saw declines in juvenile arrests (an indicator of overall juvenile crime rates) during the same time period ranging from 37-54%[64]. They are succeeding in reducing youth incarceration and youth crime.

Some feel the high levels of incarceration are due to the long sentences mandated under American law, especially for nonviolent crimes such as theft and drug possession. Some also feel that repeat offenders are not properly handled and that more focus should be on rehabilitation, and that shorter


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sentences would even reduce the criminal culture in general and especially reduce rearrest rates for first-time convicts. Some have criticized the United States for incarcerating a large number of non-violent and victimless offenders;[65][66] half of all persons incarcerated under state jurisdiction are for non-violent offences, and 20% (in State prisons, whereas Federal prison percentages are higher) are incarcerated for drug offenses.[67][68] "Human Rights Watch believes the extraordinary rate of incarceration in the United States wreaks havoc on individuals, families and communities, and saps the strength of the nation as a whole."[65] The population of inmates housed in prisons and jails in the United States exceeds 2 million, with the per capita incarceration population higher than that officially reported by any other country.[69] Because of its size and influence, the U.S. prison industry is often referred to as the prison-industrial complex. Criminal justice policy in the United States has also been criticized for the disproportionate representation of African Americans and other minorities. [70] Reporting at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (August 3, 2008), Becky Pettit, associate professor of sociology from the University of Washington and Bryan Sykes, a UW post-doctoral researcher, reveal that the mammoth increase in the United States’ prison population since the 1970s is having profound demographic consequences that disproportionately affect black males. Drawing data from a variety of sources that looked at prison and general populations, the researchers found that the boom in prison population is hiding lowered rates of fertility and increased rates of involuntary migration to rural areas and morbidity that is marked by a greater exposure to and risk of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV or AIDS.[71]

Incarceration in the United States

A 2002 study survey showed that among nearly 275,000 prisoners released in 1994, 67.5% were rearrested within 3 years, and 51.8% were back in prison.[72] However, the study found no evidence that spending more time in prison raises the recidivism rate, and found that those serving the longest time, 61 months or more, had a significantly lower rearrest rate (54.2%) than every other category of prisoner. This is most likely explained by the older average age of those released with the longest sentences, and the study shows a strong negative correlation between recidivism and age upon release.

See also
• • • • • • • • • Crime in the United States Law enforcement in the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons United States Department of Justice List of U.S. federal prisons Prisons in California Religion in the United States’ prisons United States incarceration rate List of countries by incarceration rate

[1] Probation and Parole in the United States, 2006. By Lauren E. Glaze and Thomas P. Bonczar. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), Department of Justice. [2] BJS. Correctional Population Trends Chart. [3] ^ World Prison Population List. 7th edition. By Roy Walmsley. Published in 2007. International Centre for Prison Studies. School of Law, King’s College London. For editions 1 through 7: [1]. [4] "New Incarceration Figures: ThirtyThree Consecutive Years of Growth" (PDF). Sentencing Project. December 2006. Admin/Documents/publications/ inc_newfigures.pdf. Retrieved on 2007-06-10. [5] ^ World Prison Brief - Highest to Lowest Figures. International Centre for Prison Studies. School of Law, King’s College London. Compare many nations. Select from menu: prison population total, prison population rate, percentage of

Cost of incarceration
The United States spends an estimated $60 billion each year on corrections.[70] While cost varies from state to state, in 2005, the average cost of incarceration per prisoner in the United states was $23,876. That comes out to $65.41 per day.


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pre-trial detainees / remand prisoners within the prison population, percentage of female prisoners within the prison population, percentage of foreign prisoners within the prison population and occupancy rate. [6] Walmsley, Roy (2005). "World Prison Population List" (PDF). King’s College London, International Centre for Prison Studies. icps/world-prison-populationlist-2005.pdf. Retrieved on 2007-10-19. For the latest detailed country data, see "Prison Brief for United States of America". King’s College London, International Centre for Prison Studies. 2006-06-21. rel/icps/worldbrief/ north_america_records.php?code=190. Retrieved on 2007-10-19. There are reports that the People’s Republic of China’s actual prison population and incarceration rate and North Korea’s incarceration rate may exceed those of the United States. See Adams, Cecil (2004-02-06). "Does the United States Lead the World in Prison Population?". The Straight Dope. 040206.html. Retrieved on 2007-10-11. [7] "Bureau of Justice Statistics Prisoners in 2007". abstract/p07.htm. Retrieved on December 17, 2008. [8] "New High In U.S. Prison Numbers". By N.C. Aizenman. February 29, 2008. Washington Post. [9] ^ One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008. Released Feb. 28, 2008. The Pew Center on the States. [10] Prison Statistics. Bureau of Justice Statistics.US Department of Justice [11] New York Times, March 2, 2009, "Prison Spending Outpaces All but Medicaid", 03prison.html [12] State University of New York Binghamton [13] "US Department of Justice on War on drugs". glance.htm. Retrieved on 2006-12-09. [14] "Prisoners in 2004" (PDF). Bureau of Justice Statistics. p04.pdf. Retrieved on 2006-06-28.

Incarceration in the United States
[15] "State Firearm Death Rates, Ranked by Rate, 2006". fadeathchart09.htm. Retrieved on 2009-05-06. [16] "America’s One-Million Nonviolent Prisoners". Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. pubs/one_million/onemillionexec.html. Retrieved on 2006-06-13. [17] "Prisoners in 2002" (PDF). Bureau of Justice Statistics. p02.pdf. Retrieved on 2006-06-13. [18] Elizabeth White (22 May 2006). "1 in 136 U.S. Residents Behind Bars". Associated Press. headlines06/0522-03.htm. [19] ^ Paige M. Harrison and Allen J. Beck, Ph.D. (November 2006). "Prisoners in 2005" (PDF). U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. 13. p05.pdf. [20] GAO-05-337R Information on Criminal Aliens Incarcerated in Federal and State Prisons and Local Jails [21] "Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2005". United States Bureau of Justice Statistics. [22] Juvenile Residential Facility Census, 2004: Selected Findings. (NCJ 222721) January 2009. By Sarah Livsey, Melissa Sickmund, and Anthony Sladky. OJJDP (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention). [23] Jiang, Su. "Measuring Prison Population in China: A Preliminary Observation" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 27 May 2008 [2] [24] 040206.html [25] "Inhumane Prison Conditions Still Threaten Life, Health of Alabama Inmates Living with HIV/AIDS, According to Court Filings". Human Rights Watch. docs/2005/02/28/usdom10223.htm. Retrieved on 2006-06-13. [26] Cindy Struckman-Johnson & David Struckman-Johnson (2000). "Sexual Coercion Rates in Seven Midwestern Prisons for Men" (PDF). The Prison


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Journal. struckman.pdf. [27] "Gang and Security Threat Group Awareness". Florida Department of Corrections. pub/gangs/. Retrieved on 2006-06-13. [28] Thompson, Don. “Prison Attacks Calling Attention to Overcrowding” The San Diego Union-Tribune. April 5, 2008. uniontrib/20080405/ news_1n5prisons.html [29] Crime Pays. 14. 60 Minutes. 25 November 1984. [30] ^ Aging inmates clogging nation’s prisons USA Today [31] ^ Growing burden for aging population Corrections Correction Network News [32] [33] Homan, B. & Ziedenburg, J. (2006) The Dangers of Detention: The Impact of Incarcerating Youth in Detention and Other Secure Facilities . Washington, DC: Justice Policy Institute. P. 3. [34], (2008) “The Juvenile Justice System” [35] Snyder, H., & Sickmund, M. (1999). Juvenile offenders and victims: 1999 National Report. Washington , DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Page 89. [36] Juzskiewicz, J.(2000) Youth Crime/Adult Time: Is Justice Served? Washington, DC: Building Blocks for Youth. [37] Building Blocks for Youth, (2001). “Public Opinion on Youth, Crime, and Race: A Guide for Advocates”, Open Society Institute, < initiatives/usprograms/focus/justice/ articles_publications/publications/ public_opinion_youth_20011001> [38] Dorfman, Lori & Schiraldi, Vincent. (2001) Off Balance: Youth, Race and Crime in the News. Washington, DC: Building Blocks for Youth [39] Building Blocks for Youth, 2001, p. 5 [40] Poe-Yamagata, E. & Jones, M. (2000) And Justice for Some: Differential Treatment of Minority Youth in the Jusutice System. Washington, DC: Building Blocks for Youth. [41] The Trauma Foundation, “Young People—Incarceration and Death at Home in the U.S.” May 2004.

Incarceration in the United States
< 5-21-04youthincarceration.html> November 2008. [42] Males, M. & MacAllair, D. (2000). The Color of Justice. Washington, DC: Building Blocks for Youth [43] Holman and Zeiderberg, 2001, p. 8 [44] Buidling Blocks for Youth, 2001, p. 27 [45] Dishion, T.J., McCord, J & Poulin F. (1999), “When interventions Harm: Peer groups and Problem Behavior.” American Psychologist Vol. 45, No. 9 p. 755-764. [46] Committee on Government reform, Special Investigations Division, Minority Staff (2004) “Incarceration of youth who are waiting for Community Mental Health Services in the United States” Prepared for Sen. Susan Collins, and rep. Henry A. Waxman. <> [47] Kashani, J.H., Manning, G.W., McKnew, D.H., Cytryn, L., Simonds, J.F., and Wooderson, P.C. (1980) “Depression Among Incarcerated Delinquents”, Psychiatry Resources Vol. 1 p. 185-191. [48] Parent, D.G., Leiter, V., Kennedy, S., Livens, L., Wentworth, D. & Wilcox, S. (1994) Conditions of Confinement: Juvenile Detention and Corrections Facilities. Washington, DC: U.S. department of Justice, Offcie of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. [49] Hayes, L.M. (1999) Suicide Prevention in Juvenile Correctional Facilities Washington DC: Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. [50] Holman and Ziedenberg, 2006, p. 9 [51] Holman and Zeidenberg, 2001, p. 10 [52] Sickmund, M. (2007). Juveniles in Corrections. Washington DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. [53] Sickmund, M., Sladky, T.J., and Kang, W. “Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement Databook.” 2004. < November 2008. [54] Homan, & Ziedenburg, 2006, Pages 7-8. [55] Holman and Ziedenberg, 2006. P. 3-5. [56] Benda, B.B. & Tollet, C.L. (1999), “A Study of Recidivism of Serious and Persistent Offenders Among Adolescents.” Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 27, No. 2. Pages 111-126.


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[57] Aos, S. (2002) The Juvenile Justice System in Washington State: recommendations to improve CostEffectiveness. Olympia, WA: Washington State Institute for Public Policy. [58] Building Blocks for Youth, 2001, p. 27-29 [59] Building Blocks for Youth, 2001, p. 32 [60] Anne J. Atkinson, Ph.D (2005)“ZERO TOLERANCE POLICIES: AN ISSUE BRIEF” Prepared for the Virginia Department of Education . Richmond, VA: PolicyWorks, Ltd. [61] Ibid. [62] Building Blocks for Youth, 2001, p. 4. [63] Anonymous, (2001) “ABA Will Oppose Zero Tolerance for Youth”, Juvenile Justice Digest, 28 February 2001. [64] Holman and Zeidenberg, 2006, p. 14-15. [65] ^ Fellner, Jamie. "US Addiction to Incarceration Puts 2.3 Million in Prison". Human Rights Watch. english/docs/2006/12/01/ usdom14728.htm. [66] Abramsky, Sasha (January 22, 2002). Hard Time Blues: How Politics Built a Prison Nation. Thomas Dunne Books. [67] "Prisoners in 2005" (PDF). United States Department of Justice: Office of Justice Programs. November 2006. p05.pdf. Retrieved on 2007-06-03. [68] "America’s One-Million Nonviolent Prisoners". Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. pubs/one_million/onemillionexec.html. Retrieved on 2007-06-003. [69] "1 in 100 U.S. Adults Behind Bars, New Study Says". The New York Times. February 28, 2008. 28cnd-prison.html?. [70] ^ Slevin, Peter (June 2006). "U.S. Prison Study Faults System and the Public". The Washington Post. content/article/2006/06/07/ AR2006060702050.html. [71] Bulging Prison System Called Massive Intervention in American Family Life Newswise, Retrieved on August 3, 2008.

Incarceration in the United States
[72] "Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994". Bureau of Justice Statistics. rpr94.htm.

External links
• Bureau of Justice Statistics - Prisoners in 2005 • Women in Prison: How It Is With Us, by Assata Shakur • Ken Silverstein - U.S.: America’s Private Gulag • "Orleans Parish Prison before and after Katrina" from Dollars & Sense magazine • Prison Policy Initiative • Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2005. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. • Drug War Casualty Statistical Graphs. The November Coalition. Graphs and bar charts of U.S. and international incarceration totals, rates, etc.. By race, gender, ethnicity, some offenses, etc.. • U.S. Incarceration Rate Timeline from 1925. Yearly totals and rates. State rates for a recent year. • Table lists. Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics. • Table 6.13.2005 - Number and rate (per 100,000 U.S. residents) of persons in State and Federal prisons and local jails, United States, 1985, 1990-2005. • Table 6.9.2003 - Number and rate (per 100,000 juveniles age 10 through upper age of jurisdiction) of juveniles in public and private residential custody facilities, by State, 1997, 1999, 2001, and 2003. • USA. "Direct expenditures by criminal justice function". Columns for Police, Judicial, Corrections. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) chart for last 20 years. • USA. "Direct expenditure by level of government". Criminal justice. BJS chart with columns for Federal, State, and Local costs. Last 20 years.

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