Newsbrief: Annual Incarceration Numbers Released, Total Starting to Level Off, Feds Continue Blistering Pace 4/6/01

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The nation's combined jail and prison population grew again in the year ending June 30th, reaching a record high of 1,931,859 men and women behind bars in the United States, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics' report, "Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2000," released in late March. The US incarceration rate -- 702 per 100,000 -- makes the US the world leader in imprisonment. The nearest competitor, Russia, has an estimated rate of 675 per 100,000.

The good news is that the prison population appears to have started to level off, as DRCNet reported in February ( In absolute numbers, the prison population increased by 30,710, the lowest figure in a decade. According to BJS, the number of prisoners in state prisons increased at a rate of only 1.5%, the slowest rate in 30 years. Declines occurred in eleven states, including Massachusetts (down 4.8 percent), Alaska (down 4.4 percent), New York (down 3.1 percent) and New Jersey. The two monsters of the state prison systems, California and Texas, have also showed virtually no increase in the past year.

The federal system, however, continued to expand at a rapid clip, with the growth rate declining only slightly to 9.3% from 9.6% the previous year. The feds' more than 12,000 new inmates last year accounted for almost 40% of the increase in the nation's prison population. With more than 60% of federal inmates doing time on drug charges, the drug war continues to fuel the growth of the federal prison system.

The differential racial impact of the drug war -- 79% of state drug prisoners are minorities -- is also reflected in the BJS finding that one in eight black males between 20 and 34 were behind bars.

Visit to read the BJS report online.

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Issue #180, 4/6/01 Editorial: Racial Profiling Scandals First of Many to Come | HEA Drug Provision Begins to Bite: Over 30,000 Potentially Losing Aid Already, Many More to Follow, Students Fighting Back | Attorney General Admits Racial Profiling Still Occurring as Predecessor Twists in the Wind | Northern Arizona Racial Profiling Case Heats Up, State Destroys Evidence | Newsbrief: Annual Incarceration Numbers Released, Total Starting to Level Off, Feds Continue Blistering Pace | British Columbia Marijuana Party in Bid for Electoral Respectability, Aims for Second Place Finishes in Selected Districts | Rep. Frank Reintroduces Legislation to Legalize Medical Marijuana | Annals of Prop. 215:00:00 Humboldt Sheriff Faces Contempt of Court for Refusing to Return Patient's Marijuana, Vows to Stand Firm | Colombian Canada Ambassador Launches Preemptive Anti-Legalization Strike as Summit of the Americas Looms | Drug War on Trial: Narco News Court Date and One-Year Anniversary on Successive Days This Month | The Reformer's Calendar
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