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One in 100 Americans Behind Bars

One in 100 Americans are incarcerated, straining state budgets without delivering a clear return on public safety, the Pew Center on the States reports. The new report concludes that states spent $49 billion on incarcerations, up from $11 billion 20 years ago. Meanwhile, national recidivist rates have not decreased; one in two ex-cons find themselves back in jail within three years.


Some states are decreasing costs by placing low-risk offenders in less costly settings. Some also use intermediate sanctions for parolees that violate the terms of their parole, instead of taking them back in custody. What's up America? Why are so many people behind bars? Is the population increasingly dangerous? Or, are we unable to come up with creative ways of addressing societal issues?

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love_fashion07 love_fashion07 8 years
it's sad :(
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
Legalize prostitution and drugs!
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Janneth- You have a right to seek out health care (see: liberty) but certainly nobody is entitled to health care they can't afford. Health care costs money. Drugs, technology, and certainly a doctor's time and experience are expensive things. Nobody has a right to ask for anything at somebody else's expense. The story you told is certainly very sad, but it only appeals to emotion and doesn't give any reason why health care is a RIGHT. "Rights" typically mean you have the freedom to do something, and not that somebody else owes you something. It is not my responsibility to take care of all the sick people in this country, regardless of whether or not they put themselves into that position. And by the way, show me in the Constitution where it says you have a right to "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". You can't, because it doesn't.
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 8 years
Ooh, my bad, I meant my comment as a response to Catepillargirl not Whiplashgirl.
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 8 years
I'm a little late, I wrote like a 5 pages long comment last night, but I managed to delete it all while checking the spelling, so I left cursing my laptop. I can't get it all this time because I lost my patience, so this will be a shorter one. MMM: When you mentioned crime in Philly I thought you might have seen it. I haven't seen the last season yet, I'm gearing up to see it all at once. I think everyone should see it, it's just the best show there is out there. Whip: Maybe we are cousins! My mother is Norwegian, and I spent 3 years studying there, so I too know a whole lot about their system. Everything is more expensive there because their incomes are 30-40 % higher, if not more. So they pay a lot of taxes, but they have a better overall living standard then here in the US, because they have few poor, few really rich, while the middle class is strong and blooming. If you are in need of a surgery or treatment you'll get it, no matter if it would cost 200$ or 1 million$. There's no cherry picking. The only downside is the waiting lists for non critical treatments like say, hipsurgery or removing your tonsils, and you might have to wait weeks or even months. But you are covered, and you'll never loose your pension because you get fired at 50, because it's all through taxes. Norway is on the top of UNICEF's list of the best living conditions in the world, and have been top 5 the last ten years. Also, being Norwegian you are covered for any medical treatment in all of Europe, if you travel or live abroad. Scandinavians complain a lot. And they talk about the weather a lot. And then they complain about the weather a lot. But in a recent international survey they topped the list of the most happy people in the world; Iceland, Denmark, Norway being on top, the US being 21.(still pretty good) and Moldova being the most unhappy place. So underneath that stoic nature lies a happy person, they just don't know it! :true:
janneth janneth 8 years
I agree with megmccoy, it is poverty and everything else you said. And I think healthcare is a right. Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, and how can you attain that if you are sick? How can you attain that if you are 16 and living in a two room apt with a bunch of relatives, and the families can't afford to pay the bills so you have no heat, and you develop a bad cough, and your jacket is so thin (not to mention dirty), and one of your lungs collapses, and you miss so much school, and nobody wants to sit next to you in class cuz you be coughing nonstop, and your mom has no $ for you to see the doctor or even to buy kleenex, and you end up in the ER cuz you can't breathe one day which costs a lot. So you steal some stuff from the 7 Eleven cuz you're hungry and hopeless, and by the time you are 21, you be in jail. A little healthcare would have been nice.
megnmac megnmac 8 years
Poverty, drugs, desperation... no mental health services, no social aid, no culture, no way to get off of the meth (in my area)... And it isn't so simple parents not working and failing to raise kids, it is inadequate foster systems and parents incarcerated as well! I think people forget the only options aren't the ones they can envision - but families that are so entrenched in the system, on drugs, in jail, leaving kids wherever, and those kids becoming unstable, nonproductive adults, just like mom and dad. I can't say how often I've seen juveniles in court where the judge notes he's already sentenced mom, dad, aunt, uncle, cousin and grandpa in the past 20 years. Incarceration and courts become just another way of life in some family cultures. States have made more and more crimes less discretionary for judges, so people that typically wouldn't get incarcerated are (think youth, less at fault than typical case), and in being 'tough' on crime, there are some crazy disparaties out there, and some prosecutors don't use their discretion to find appropriate solutions. The comment about the low bonds is something I see every day - when people have no money to post at all, many low bonds aren't reevaluated when the $100 can't be posted. My court is trying to remedy this with a pretrial services program that has hired a guy to go over the cases, find these, and look into whether the bond should be redetermined. (onabanana and jillness - I liked your posts a lot...)
mymellowman mymellowman 8 years
Tres, I've seen every episode of the wire and was/am a big fan. Though I must note that last season and this season have been a bit of a let down compared to the first three season, not bad, but a bit of a let down.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
tres, most of my family (aunts uncles cousins grandparents) live in norway and it is VERY EXPENSIVE to live there. 30% higher than the USA. When they come and see me, they buy extra luggage here, fill it with goods to take back. They have universal health care (just like hillary wants) and they hate it. They are amazed that i can just self refer myself, make an appointment, and go in. No wait times, no stupid paperwork.
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 8 years
Who's seen the TV show "The Wire"?
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 8 years
In most industrialized countries, like Britain, in Scandinavia, France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, and so on do you have basic health care through taxing and low premiums; but these countries also have a very strong and stable middle class. I think one doesn't exclude the other. I know many of you are against it, so how would you fix it? The way it is right now is that health care costs so much that a lot of people and families are sliding right out of the category middle class, and into a lower income one because the costs of living have risen majorly the last years.
cine_lover cine_lover 8 years
Michelin, you are not the only one.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
My pot-headed conservatism is pretty hard to control, too
mymellowman mymellowman 8 years
Michelen: At first glance I thought you wrote: "I apologize then, it's so hard to keep my "Pot-headed" conservatism to myself. But I re-read and stand corrected. :)
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Cabaker, I apologize then, it's so hard to keep my hot-headed conservatism to myself :)
cine_lover cine_lover 8 years
3M, I love you!
ktownpolarbear ktownpolarbear 8 years
i think a large part of the problem is that instead of rehabilitating criminals, we just incarcerate them, and they'll recidivate as soon as they are granted parole.
mymellowman mymellowman 8 years
And though "Discussions eveolve," it seems my spelling doesn't.
hausfrau hausfrau 8 years
Michelin I was being facetious :) Its interesting bringing up the lack of a family unit as a cause... Like Cine said, I thought we "progressed" to the family being absolutely anything and anyone, not just mother and father. A lot of good that did us...
mymellowman mymellowman 8 years
"Have any of you actually been in jail or know people in jail? It's not a party in there." - Yes, it's a really bad situation that some learn there lesson from, but there is also another aspect. When I lived in Philly, and at the times I was in some less-than-desirable situations, I knew some people who after they got out would get themselves locked back up because they just couldn't handle it outside. Inside, they had created a life for themselves, but once they got out they were back on the street and didn't have anything going for them. (Big fish in small pond verse small fish in an ocean.) I am not saying this is the norm by any means, but there are some who adapt to the life so much they prefer to be inside. "I see that most of you haven't actually read the study." - Just because a discussion strays from what an article particularly says does not mean that people have not read it. Discussions eveolve. "Most of the comments above that are stated as fact are simply wrong." - Comments like that do nothing to clarify the situation. "Oh and this post is very incomplete. You offer one side of a story or some scathing statistic but no follow up." - As the news goes....
cine_lover cine_lover 8 years
Piper, I totally agree with that. Fathers are suppose to be there for more then a weekend, and offer more then just a paycheck when they are active in a childs life.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 8 years
imLissy I couldnt agree me, I think you hit the nail on the head.
cine_lover cine_lover 8 years
"Health care is not a "right", and the last thing we need in this country is more programs telling people they have a "right" to something they don't." Amen!
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Also! To the person who asked if anybody actually thought free health care could do harm.... Yes! Absolutely. First of all, as others have said, there is no "free" health care. The bureaucracy necessary to run a socialized health care system by itself is reason enough for me to oppose the system. But I also fear that it would deteriorate the quality and number of choices I have in my own health care. Health care is not a "right", and the last thing we need in this country is more programs telling people they have a "right" to something they don't.
cine_lover cine_lover 8 years
j2, I guess so am I. I thought that I got an apology.
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