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?