Monday, July 02, 2007
US Prison Population at All-Time High
Havana, July 2 (acn) The United States, which has the most prisoners of any country in the world, last year recorded the largest increase in the number of people in prisons and jails since 2000, announced the US Justice Department.
According to the report, the American prison and jail populations increased by more than 62,000 inmates, or 2.8 percent, to about 2,245,000 inmates in the 12-month period that ended on June 30, 2006 -the biggest jump in numbers and percentage change in six years.
Criminal justice experts have attributed the record U.S. prison population to tough sentencing laws, record numbers of drug offenders and high crimes rates.
State or federal prisons held two-thirds of the nation's incarcerated population while local jails held the rest, according to the report by the department's Bureau of Justice Statistics.
The number of inmates in state prisons rose by three percent, the report said. That growth mainly reflected rising prison admissions, which have been going up faster than the number of released prisoners. Also, more parole violators have returned to prison.
Forty-two states and the federal system all had more inmates in June last year than the previous year. The number of jail inmates increased by 2.5 percent during the same 12-month period, the report said.
Racial minorities continue to take the brunt of the resort to mass incarceration in general. Nearly six out 10 people behind bars nationwide were black or Hispanic. Black men comprised 37% of the imprisoned population, being locked up at a rate (4.8%) more than twice that of Hispanic males (1.9%) and nearly seven times that of white males (0.7%). Among black men between ages 25 and 34, a whopping 11% were behind bars.