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Incarceration: Jail and Prison Population at All-Time High (Again) -- Last Year Saw Biggest Increase Since 2000

The number of people behind bars in the United States reached a new all-time high last year, with some 2.24 million people in jail or prison at mid-year. The imprisoned population jumped by 62,000 people or 2.8%, the largest increase since 2000.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/signalhilljail.jpg
Signal Hill jail, southern Los Angeles County, California
The figures come from the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) annual report on mid-year imprisonment numbers. One of every 133 Americans was behind bars on June 30, 2006, BJS reported.

America's title as the world's number one jailer -- with 5% of the global population, the US has 25% of the prisoners -- once again remains unchallenged, leaving contenders like Russia and China in the dust. Roughly 500,000 of the more than 2.2 million people imprisoned in the US are doing time for drug offenses, a number that goes even higher when the number of people imprisoned as parole or probation violators for using drugs is factored in.

The new numbers elicited a blast at the special interests who benefit from mass incarceration by Ethan Nadelmann, head of the Drug Policy Alliance. "Two powerful forces are at play today," said Nadelmann. "On the one hand, public opinion strongly supports alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent, and especially low-level, drug law violators – and state legislatures around the country are beginning to follow suit. On the other hand, the prison industrial complex has become a powerful force in American society, able to make the most of the political inertia that sustains knee-jerk lock-'em-up policies."

If the BJS figures are any indicator, lock-'em-up policies are still in vogue. Forty-two states and the federal system reported an increase in prison populations last year, with only eight reporting declines. More than 1.5 million people are now in state or federal prison, with an additional 700,000 in jail.

Most of the growth in the imprisoned population came in the state and federal prison systems, with the jail population increasing at a rate of 2.5%, the lowest increase since 2001. The federal prison population grew by 3.6% to 191,000 June 30, a figure that had increased to 199,000 this week. Nearly 55% of all federal prisoners are drug offenders.

In state prisons, the increase was largely due to a rise in prison admissions, up 17% since 2000. About one-quarter of state prisoners are serving time for drug offenses.

Racial minorities continue to take the brunt of both the drug war and the resort to mass incarceration in general. 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.

The Latest Imprisonment Numbers Are Out; No Surprises

The Bureau of Justice Statistics will tomorrow officially release its latest annual report on the number of prisoners in America. It's pretty much the same old story, one I'm sick of writing every year, and it has a title like this: "Number of Prisoners in America At All-Time High (Again)" According to a BJS press release today (which apparently will not appear on their web site until tomorrow):
LARGEST INCREASE IN PRISON AND JAIL INMATE POPULATIONS SINCE MIDYEAR 2000 More Than 2.24 Million Incarcerated as of June 30, 2006 WASHINGTON -- During the 12 months that ended June 30, 2006, the nation's prison and jail populations increased by 62,037 inmates (up 2.8 percent), to total 2,245,189 inmates, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported today. State and federal inmates accounted for 70 percent of the increase. At midyear 2006, two-thirds of the nation.s incarcerated population was in custody in a state or federal prison (1,479,179), and the other one-third was held in local jails (766,010). The number of prisoners under the legal jurisdiction of state or federal correctional authorities -- some of whom were held in local jails -- increased by 42,942 prisoners (2.8 percent) during the 12 months ending June 30, 2006, to reach 1,556,518 prisoners. In absolute number and percentage change, the increase in prisoners under state or federal jurisdiction was the largest since the 12 months ending on June 30, 2000. The growth in state prisoners was due largely to a rise in prison admissions, up 17.2 percent between 2000 and 2005. During the same period, releases from state prisons increased at a slower rate, up 15.5 percent. New court commitments totaled 421,426 during 2005, a 20.3 percent increase since 2000, and parole violators returned to prison totaled 232,229, up 14.1 percent. Forty-two states and the federal system reported an increase in their prison populations during the 12 months ending June 30, 2006. Idaho had the largest percentage increase (up 13.7 percent), followed by Alaska (up 9.4 percent) and Vermont (up 8.3 percent). Eight states reported declines in their prison populations, led by Missouri (down 2.9 percent), Louisiana and Maine (both down 1.8 percent). The number of federal prisoners increased by 3.6 percent to reach 191,080 prisoners. At midyear 2006 the federal system had jurisdiction over more prisoners than did any single state, including California and Texas, which had jurisdiction over 175,115 and 172,889 prisoners, respectively. The number of local jail inmates increased by 2.5 percent during the year, the smallest annual percent change since 2001. Since 2000, the number of unconvicted inmates held in local jails has been increasing. As of June 30, 2006, 62 percent of inmates held in local jails were awaiting court action on their current charge, up from 56 percent in 2000.
There's more to the press release, but the above is the gist of it. This annual report does not, if I recall correctly, include a breakdown by offense, which means I have to hunt through other BJS reports to come up with a likely number of drug offenders behind bars. I've been saying "around a half million" for the past three or four years. Maybe now we'll be able to say "more than half a million." But you'll have to wait until Friday, when my story on this comes out. For those who can't wait to read the BJS report, it will be available here tomorrow morning. In the meantime, ain't it great to live in the land of the free?
Location: 
United States

The Sentencing Project Releases New Series on Women in the Criminal Justice System

[Courtesy of The Sentencing Project] Friends: The Sentencing Project is pleased to announce the publication of a series of briefing sheets on Women in the Criminal Justice System. The series documents the gender implications of changes that have occurred over the last 20 years within the criminal justice system, including expansive law enforcement, stiffer drug sentencing laws and re-entry barriers. Women in the Criminal Justice System notes that since 1985 the number of women in prison has increased at almost double the rate of incarcerated men - 404 percent vs. 209 percent. Reasons for the increasing rate for women are directly related to the 'war on drugs,' economic disadvantage, and the criminal justice system's failure to carefully consider women's involvement in crimes. The analysis also reports that 30 percent of all females incarcerated are black and 16 percent are Hispanic. Further, the briefing sheets delve into family, socioeconomic and physical and mental health issues that women - and their families - face as a result of being incarcerated. Women in the Criminal Justice System contains five sections: Overview; Involvement in Crime; Mothers in Prison; Inadequacies in Prison Services; and Barriers to Re-entering the Community. The full 10-page series is found here: http://sentencingproject.org/Admin/Documents/news/womenincj_total.pdf.
Location: 
United States

As Illinois' drug policy changes, incarcerations soar

Location: 
IL
United States
Publication/Source: 
Chicago Tribune
URL: 
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chicago/chi-0705210673may22,1,6522493.story?coll=chi-newslocalchicago-hed

Drug crisis defies easy solutions

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Seattle Times
URL: 
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003715466_jdl21.html

FedCURE Message: Federal Inmate Judith Giglo Writes Rep. Louie Gohmert -- "Calls Him Out on The Second Chance Act."

FedCURE pleads with all you, in the most strongest terms, to get behind Judith's heartfelt message and contact your Congressperson NOW! Urging him or her to support The Second Chance Act, especially the Republican leadership – Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) expressing disappointment with the delay and urging them to strongly support the Second Chance Act. Link to Contact Congress and Tips on Writing Congress: http://www.fedcure.org/ContactCongressREP-SEN.shtml and http://www.fedcure.org/documents/TipsonWritingtoCongress.pdf. Hon. Louie Gohmert Ashley H. Callen Legislative Director/Counsel Office of Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-01) 510 Cannon HOB Washington, DC 20515 202.225.3035 ph 202.226.1230 fax ashley.callen@mail.house.gov Dear Congressman Gohmert: I am one of the incarcerated Federal prisoners that you seem to feel are not entitled to any "Perks" upon release from prison. I feel put upon to reply to the letter from Ashley H. Callen, Legislative Director/Counsel in your office. I am one of many thousand federal prisoners. I am also one of many thousand federal prisoners who is truly innocent of the charges levied against me. I was tried and convicted on a charge of "Conspiracy to Money Launder". The conspiracy part is what caused me to receive a very heavy sentence. I was one of about 15 people indicted in a "front money scam".. The fact that I did not do what I was accused and convicted of is irrelevant at this time. I am almost 6 years into a 9 year sentence. I am 62+ years old. I spent the majority of my life as a businesswoman with a reputation for fairness and integrity. I am now a number in the federal prison system. As someone with business savvy, I have tried to help those in here who have not had the opportunities that I have had. I was instrumental in setting up a unit based education class program. This program allows women in the camp to take classes taught by other inmates. These classes range from the basics of tutoring for G.E.D. exams, to construction trades and CPR and Paralegal classes and everything in between. We have about 29 classes of all sorts available. The classes are 10 weeks long and in some cases longer. Women receive a certificate of completion at the end of the sessions. They are required to take a pre-class exam to help the teacher identify the basic knowledge of the students. There is also a post exam prior to receiving a certificate. Women here at camp Coleman are not idle. Many of these women will require assistance when the are ready to leave prison. Many of these women are first time non-violent offenders. Many were caught up in the minimum mandatory drug laws and are here for 10, 20 & 30 years. A number of these women gave birth to their children in prison and have had to rely on others to raise their children. So many of these women are anxious to begin a new life and a better life for themselves and their children. You and others like you, are trying to stop what could be a wonderful program in re-entry and family stabilization. Career education and training, drug counseling if required. From what I have read of the Second Chance Act, there are no provisions for cell phones or I-pods or Blackberry's. Nor is there any pork in the bill for people to go out and not work and not support themselves. All of this would require a great deal of effort on the part of the person re-entering society. Sir, are you aware of the cost of incarceration? At my age (62+), having been hospitalized three times in six years, the cost for maintaining out elderly in prison is in the range of $70,000, per person per year. For younger people the cost is approximately $29,000. multiply that cost by the an average of 200,000 federal prisoners. Astronomical isn't it? On the other hand the cost of 1 year of community college is $1,500. Which would make more sense. Teaching our inmates to become better people or keeping them in prisons? The cost of keeping an elderly person in home confinement would be somewhere around $2,000 yearly vs $70,000. Which would make more sense? The cost of incarceration is not only the dollars, but the family ties and community ties that are in some cases irreparable. I lost my husband of 28 years shortly after I was indicted. The stress that we were put under with the advent of my upcoming trail and monetary concerns caused him to have a massive heart attack. He died in my arms. My life was shattered. Not only was I facing a trial, but I was facing financial ruin in my golden years. I have lost everything that I worked for my entire life. I lost my husband as a direct result of this unjust charge, I lost my Mom shortly after I was incarcerated and my son no longer speaks to me. I have nothing to fall back on. I have no savings and no health care and no home to go back to. Yet you want me to leave prison with no financial or educational resources. Why? Do you think that it will be easy at this age to face a new beginning? Do you think that somewhere I have hidden resources to regain a life, any kind of life? My family, what there is left of them, is unable to care for me financially. They can help me with a place to live but then I am on my own. I will not be able to go back into the business that I know. I have to start from scratch. Can you tell me how to do that if I cannot access any government aid. As a convicted felon, I have no chance of renting an apartment, getting food stamps, or even getting any federal aid for education. As a convicted felon, I will be unable to get any sort of a job except maybe entry level. I have a number of things against me. My age, and worst of all a felony conviction. With the help of the Second Chance Act, I had a Second Chance available. You seem to feel that it is okay to throw me away. What you fail to realize is that I am you and you sir are me. You and most people do not realize that they are but a pen stroke away from a federal indictment. The proverbial ham sandwich being indicted. Isn't it less expensive and easier to retrain people and offer them a means to support themselves than to force them to return to illegal means as a way of life? Isn't it less expensive to allow these former felons to develop self esteem and to hold their heads up and become a productive member of society? Wouldn't there be more money available for Veteran's programs if there were fewer incarcerated? Why are you and some of your respected colleagues trying to hold us down? I have never been involved in drugs, but drugs can be self perpetuating and cause a ripple effect for years to come. The felons in prison for drug offenses, need to be able to leave here and feel gain self worth and feel that they made a mistake and paid their debt and that it will not be held against them the rest of their lives. If you do not feel that this is an issue to be reckoned with, I and many like me will disagree as strongly as possible. I firmly believe that these programs outlined in the Second Chance should be administered by people who are best able to utilize the funds to the max. If the answer lies in Faith based programs, let it be so. I have no problem with that. I truly believe that these programs will help people for many years to come. This is not a stop gap measure. This is a long range plan to help people help themselves stay out of prison. Recidivism is highest among the unemployed and the unemployable. You can put an end to this. The recidivism rate among the over 50 group is about 2%. So why are the elderly being forced to stay in prison settings where the medical care is virtually non-existent. There are no provisions for the elderly in prison. We are given very little, if any preventive care. Heart attacks, strokes and in my case bleeding ulcers are rampant. 15 months ago, I was hospitalized with bleeding ulcers. I almost died here at the camp because of the incompetent care that I received. I was told that there was nothing wrong with me except for high blood sugar. This is not now and never has been a problem in my life. I was bleeding internally, but no one here recognized the symptoms. There is no managed care. There is no real food. The allotted cost for feeding inmates is somewhere around $1.62 per day per person, below the poverty level. Poor food, poor housing conditions, unclean housing units and little medical care add up to a very expensive cost of incarceration. Hospital stays for people like me are expensive. I have been hospitalized three times, the last time just this past week. I have undergone surgery that could have been prevented. I respectfully ask that you reconsider your opposition to this bill. Allow me to go home and become a productive member of the senior society. I have much to offer and would like to see my family again outside of the confines of prison. I do not want to die in here, and that is a very real fear. I am not alone in that fear. We have many women here who are older than I and in worse physical health. We are Social Security eligible and Medicare eligible, some of us are even able to work outside of the home. Allow the prison system to save the thousands of dollars a year that they spend on me and the other elderly. Take that money and put it to programs for the Vets. We are not asking for I-pods or Blackberry's or cell phones. We are asking for a chance. Certainly if you or someone that you care about were in this position, you would be pushing for this bill to pass. Our families feel the same way. I may not be able to vote now, but at some point I will again be able to vote and I would like to think that the candidate of choice is a person who is fair minded and caring. I believe that with your support and the support of other Republicans this bill, which is advocated by the Justice Department and the Bureau of Prisons and American Bar Association, the Public Defenders Association to name a few, would be passed. Sincerely, Judie Giglio Reg.No. 11197-017 Federal Correction Complex Camp P.O. Box 1027 Coleman, Fl. 33521-1027 P.S. This letter is being forwarded to your office by my daughter, as copy is being forwarded to Gene Guerro Open Society Institute and FedCure.
Location: 
TX
United States

Opinion: A devastating link: prisoner rape, the war on drugs in the U.S.

Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Clarion-Ledger (MS)
URL: 
http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070516/OPINION/705160306

Ahead of Monday Budget Release, Advocates Urge Gov. to Increase Drug Treatment Funding

For Immediate Release: May 10, 2007 Contact: Margaret Dooley, tel: (858) 336-3685 or Dave Fratello, tel: (310) 394-2952 Ahead of Monday Budget Release, Advocates Urge Gov. to Increase Drug Treatment Funding In Time of Prison Crisis, Proponents Point to Prop. 36 as Solution Program Needs $228.6 Million to Provide Adequate Services and Increase Taxpayer Savings, Says State-Commissioned UCLA Report SACRAMENTO, May 10 – On Monday (May 14), Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will release his revised budget proposal for Proposition 36, California’s voter-enacted, treatment-instead-of-incarceration program. Advocates are calling on the governor to heed the advice of a recent state-funded report by increasing funding for the program to $228.6 million. Margaret Dooley, Prop. 36 coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance, said, “Even before UCLA recommended $230 million as the minimum annual funding level, there was consensus among doctors, treatment providers and advocates, and county governments that Prop. 36 needs more funding, not less. Only a substantial funding increase can provide adequate treatment and continue to expand this program’s documented cost savings. We hope the governor’s May revise will reflect this broad consensus.” The Governor’s January budget proposed slashing Prop. 36 funding from $145 million to $120 million, while diverting half of those funds into an “Offender Treatment Program” (OTP) requiring a 1-9 county match. At legislative budget hearings, treatment providers and local governments have vocally expressed their displeasure. The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) noted in February that a reduction in Prop. 36 funding would increase prison costs. The LAO also pointed to some prospective legal concerns regarding the shifting of funds from the Prop. 36 trust fund into OTP. Several major California newspapers also have criticized the Governor’s plan. The Los Angeles Times editorial page said: “The UCLA study flagged [shortcomings] in Proposition 36, most of which point to a need for longer, more intensive treatment. That means more funding, not less.” The Orange County Register and San Diego’s North County Times also weighed in against the governor’s plan and in support of cost-effective, community-based treatment. Dave Fratello, co-author of Prop. 36, said, “The state budget may be tight, but California can’t afford to reduce its commitment to Prop. 36. UCLA has shown again and again that Prop. 36 generates huge cost savings, improves thousands of lives each year and has significantly reduces the burden on our prisons. We can show now with data that drug addiction is most expensive when it is not treated.” Nearly six years into Prop. 36, the number of people incarcerated for drug possession has fallen by 32 percent (5,000 people). By diverting so many into treatment, Prop. 36 rendered unnecessary the construction of a new men’s prison (saving an addition $500 million) and also resulted in the shuttering of a women’s prison, bringing total savings to $1.7 billion. UCLA Finds Big Savings, Recommends Big Funding Increase Prior UCLA analyses of Prop. 36, required under law, established that every $1 invested results in $2.50 of savings to state and local government coffers, with most of those savings accrued by the state. UCLA researchers used a stringent, rigorous “taxpayers’ perspective” model only considered these direct savings. UCLA’s most recent analysis, released last month, found that the program requires at least $228.6 million to provide minimal, adequate treatment and to help generate even greater cost savings. The researchers found that average stays in treatment are shorter in Prop. 36 than in similar systems because the program is under-funded. Also, many people receive incorrect, less expensive treatment placements and have little probation supervision during their stays. UCLA researchers arrived at their recommended funding level by analyzing the costs of a series of improvements, including: More appropriate treatment placement (e.g., residential placement for those severely addicted, $18.9 million); Providing a “minimum dose,” or 90 days, of treatment ($31.3 million); Expanding access to narcotic replacement therapies, such as methadone and buprenorphine ($3.7 million); and Enhancing probation supervision ($25 million). # # #
Location: 
Sacramento, CA
United States

Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop presents "Hear Us Out"

Hear Us Out will feature the writings of 16 and 17-year olds who have been charged and incarcerated as adults in the DC Jail. Poems will be read by Free Minds members who have been released and are now living and working in the DC community. Come celebrate their successes at this free community event! Though I am behind these bars I'll start my life anew Despite these walls around me My sun will still shine through -by Leon, age 17, "Sunshine" You are invited to bring a new or used paperback book for the DC Jail's new lending library. Invite your friends. Light refreshments will be served. Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop is a 501©3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to introduce young inmates to the transformative power of books and creative writing. By mentoring them and connecting them to supportive services throughout their incarceration into reentry, Free Minds inspires these youth to see their potential and achieve new educational and career goals. Since 2002, Free Minds has served nearly 200 youth. For more information, see http://www.freemindsbookclub.org/
Date: 
Wed, 05/16/2007 - 7:00pm
Location: 
1816 12th Street, NW
Washington, DC
United States

Congressional Staff Briefing: Can Probation and Parole Supervision Reduce Recidivism?

The International Community Corrections Association (ICCA), The Sentencing Project, and the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office and National Prison Project, in collaboration with the Justice Roundtable Reentry Coalition invite you to a Congressional Staff Briefing: "Can Probation and Parole Supervision Reduce Recidivism?" hosted by Representative Bobby Scott, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. Speakers include: Stefan LoBuglio -- Chief, Pre-Release and Reentry, Montgomery County Department of Correction and Rehabilition Pre-Release Center Cedric Hendricks, Esq. -- Associate Director, Office of Legislative, Intergovernmental and Public Affairs, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia (CSOSA) Phil Fornaci -- Director, D.C. Prisoners' Project, Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs Speakers will discuss how well-structured probation and parole supervision programs, coupled with pre-release planning, can address the challenges and barriers to reentry faced by previously incarcerated persons. Each year 650,000 people leave prison and return to communities, many in need of comprehensive mental health care, drug treatment, welfare benefits, public housing, employment and educational training. Programs that prepare people for their life after prison and link aftercare programs and supervision can ease the reentry process and lead to reduced rates of recidivism. Programs across the country can serve as models for federal policymakers. For more information, contact Ms. Abeo F. Anderson at aanderson@iccaweb.org.
Date: 
Wed, 05/16/2007 - 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Location: 
Room 2226
Washington, DC
United States

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