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July 25th, 2011 at 7:25 am

11 stunning facts about the American prison system

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Many times it’s simple mistakes that send people to the slammer

A greater percentage of the population in the U.S. is locked up in prison than any other country in the world.

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Despite budget cuts and tax shortfalls housing inmates costs the country almost $600 billion a year.

Despite the rising incarceration rates over the last decade, crime is actually down.

High inmate populations are blamed on mandatory sentencing and over-zealous drug laws.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

  1. In 2009 there were 7.2 million people in prison and under official supervision like probation — a larger population than the state of Washington
  2. Between 1987 and 2007 the national prison population tripled
  3. 4 in 10 prisoners return to state prisons within three years of release
  4. One in 30 men between 20 and 34 is behind bars — and up to one in 13 in one state
  5. One in nine black men between 20 and 34 are behind bars
  6. 734 out of every 100,000 people are behind bars in the U.S. — far and away the highest number in the world
  7. Russia and South Africa are our nearest competitor
  8. Part of the bizarre prison black market, a thimbleful of tobacco can fetch up to $50 at a maximum security prison
  9. Typically parole programs cost taxpayers $7.47 per day per parolee, while prisons cost $78.95 per day per inmate nationwide.
  10. Some prisoners cost more. It costs New Jersey $253 million every year to house just its death row prisoners — $11 million apiece
  11. Between 1987 and 2007 state prison costs rose by 315 percent to $44.06 billion a year

Via Business Insider

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