Prisoners in the United States - statistics & facts

Prisoners in the United States - statistics & facts

Statistics and facts about prisoners in the United States

There are more people currently incarcerated in the United States than in China and India combined, and this, despite the fact that the total combined population of these two countries exceeds that of the United States by over 2.3 billion. 25 percent of all incarcerated individuals on the planet are incarcerated in the United States, easily securing the nation’s place at the top spot of the ranking of the countries with the most prisoners.


The eyebrow-raising statistic that around 1 in every 100 adults in the United States lives their life behind bars poses some serious questions around a variety of issues that impact and influence developments in the US prison population. Only through understanding properly the trends behind the figures is it possible to address the growing severity of the situation, allowing for the development of an effective method built on realistic solutions that aims to tackle the roots of the unprecedented build up in the number of prisoners incarcerated head on.

The length of sentences imposed, the practice of mandatory sentencing and their efficiency as a deterring force is often called into question by critics of the US system. The United States has much longer sentences than any other nation in the world, and is often lambasted for its incarceration of a large number of non-violent offenders. A study of statistics on convictions by offense category raises questions around how effective and appropriate it is to impose sweeping custodial sentences as a means of promoting correction or rehabilitation, especially when considered in conjunction with state correction expenditure levels. In some states, a year of prison costs more than a year at college, which goes a long way in illustrating a large discrepancy with the system.

Prevention is better than cure, and the implementation of preventative polices in addressing the causes of crime is as much a task for the current administration as it is for the administrations of the future. Better education, the promotion of civic engagement and equal access to help and support for ethnic minorities across the board will go some way to reducing the rising trend of ethnic minority prisoners and, with some luck, the prison population in general.



Picture: istockphoto.com / hronos7; freeimages.com / ctechs

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