Drug Policy

New Incarceration Record

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According to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report (PDF) released yesterday, 2.3 million Americans were behind bars in 2007, 1.5 percent more than in 2006 and a new record. The number includes about 780,000 people in local jails, 1.4 million in state prisons, and 200,000 in federal prison. Roughly one in five state prisoners and more than half of federal prisoners were serving time for drug offenses. Assuming the percentage of drug offenders in jails is similar to the percentage in state prisons, the total is more than half a million. "That is ten times the total in 1980," notes the Drug Policy Alliance, "and more than all of western Europe (with a much larger population) incarcerates for all offenses."

showed how the U.S. incarceration rate compares to those of other countries in the June issue of reason.

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  1. For comparison, the population of the city of Chicago is roughly 2.8 million.

  2. At the pace things are going, the prison system will end up being the only industry thriving in the US.

  3. At the pace things are going, the prison system will end up being the only industry thriving in the US
    ____________________________________________
    And that is the reason the stupid drug war will never end!

  4. “””That is ten times the total in 1980,” notes the Drug Policy Alliance, “and more than all of western Europe (with a much larger population) incarcerates for all offenses.”””””

    See they are winning the drug war!!! The metric for victory is the body count, they are not interested in a strategy that would end the hostilities.

  5. Only 298.8 million more to go!

  6. But prisoners perform a valuable public service! They keep our highways clean and make great license plates. Prisons also produce lots of well-paying jobs too, and you get to play with the latest in non-lethal weaponry!

  7. Isn’t Reason always telling us how much the crime rate has been dropping since the 1970s? Lower crime rate. Higher incarceration rate. There’s a connection there. Think about it for a while.

    Also, a “non-violent drug offense” does not necessarily mean the offender is a non-violent person. Remember, Al Capone got sent up for income tax evasion. Whether or not the particular offense the user is convicted of is non-violent, my observation has been that people who wind up in jail on drug offenses would usually not be confused with angels, drug usage aside. Very, very rarely have I seen anyone who was in general a solid citizen do time for getting busted for a bag of pot.

  8. That’s right, if you smoke an 8-ball, it turns you into a savage beast that runs around raping and pillaging! Throw ’em in the slammer and throw away the key!

  9. “Very, very rarely have I seen anyone…”
    the unregistered voter hasn’t been paying attention.
    And higher incarceration rate – lower crime rate? Undoubtedly true. Like I said, only 298.8 million to go. On that glorious day, the crime rate drops to zero!

  10. U-S-A! U-S-A! Wooo!

  11. Also, if threw every hippy in prison this would greatly increase GDP, since as well all know, all hippies do is smoke doobies and eat flaxseed cookies. Smoking doobies is immoral because it’s illegal, or why else would we pass a law against them?

  12. Egosum, wouldn’t that cause the flaxseed industry to fail?
    Oh, wait. Bailout. Right.

  13. Now you’re catching on.

  14. “Very, very rarely have I seen anyone…”
    the unregistered voter hasn’t been paying attention.

    Given that the unregistered voter has been using illegal drugs himself for close to 40 years, he has, in fact, been paying a helluva lot of attention, and has plenty of first-hand experience in the matter.

    I’ll repeat – very rarely, in fact, never in my personal experience, have I ever known anyone to get locked up on a minor drug offense on it’s own. Usually, the cop will just confiscate your stash and send you on your way. Even if they do make an arrest, the usual outcome is 6 months probation and a fine. Unless you’ve been causing the cops other headaches for things that they can’t nail you for, it’s highly unlikely they’ll even bother to make a bust.

    Let me ask you this – what’s the total time served by the reason editorial staff, not a few of whom we can assume have done a little indulging themselves?

    And higher incarceration rate – lower crime rate? Undoubtedly true. Like I said, only 298.8 million to go. On that glorious day, the crime rate drops to zero!

    And with that logic, we could make an argument for not locking up anyone for anything. Ever.

  15. “Given that the unregistered voter has been using illegal drugs himself for close to 40 years…”

    Ah. It’s all beginning to make sense now.

  16. the crime rate can drop, especially in certain crimes, but because the population increases every year and the way sentences are handed out could account for the higher incarceration rate.

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