“One in every 100 adults in the U.S. now lives behind bars!”

Behind Bars in California

This past weekend we learned of a race riot at the CA Institution for Men prison in Chino in which 175 inmates were injured. The Chino facility, designed to hold 3,000, has 5,877 inmates.

Word of this outbreak was even covered in the Chinese press. check out China DGSHI News where I have added their story link at the end of this post.

It has been estimated that the damage to the 7 housing units will cost upwards of $6 million to repair at a time when the state is virtually broke.

Before getting into prison facts and figures let’s consider what a federal court has just ruled. Bear in mind that we expect judges to interpret the law and not become judicial activists. I mention that as we are being told to present a plan to release 43,000 CA inmates within 45 days. While they may recognize the consequences of that action, the judges should not let their personal feelings enter the picture.

Stop for a minute and acknowledge that we have hundreds of thousands of law abiding citizens currently out of work or underemployed in CA. Can someone tell me what these, soon to be released, prisoners will do to survive once they hit the streets?

I have a report that states California housing 174,282 prisoners at a Total Cost Per Day of $11,352,729

Source. Jail overcrowding.com  link provided below

Bursting at the Seams

The United States imprisons significantly more people than any other nation in the world. In fact, the Pew Center on the States reported in 2008 that an astounding one in every 100 adults in the U.S. now lives behind bars! Because we’ve been trying to “incarcerate our way” out of crime for so long, federal and state prisons and county jails are experiencing near-crisis levels of overcrowding. At the same time, operating budgets have been severely cut, as has funding to build new facilities. And over the next two years, researchers predict the situation will get even worse. Based on current projections, by 2011 the U.S. prison population will increase by 13% – which is triple the growth of the entire population as a whole – to more than 1.7 million. Supporting that increase in incarcerated people will cost American taxpayers and local/state budgets an estimated $27.5 billion. At that time, another 4 million people will also be on probation or parole. The net effect is that states, counties, courts, sheriffs, and administrators are actively looking for ways to trim incarcerated populations..

Based on current projections, by 2011 the U.S. prison population will increase by 13% – which is triple the growth of the entire population as a whole – to more than 1.7 million. Supporting that increase in incarcerated people will cost American taxpayers and local/state budgets an estimated $27.5 billion. At that time, another 4 million people will also be on probation or parole.

At the heart of the jail overcrowding problem is the combination of rising crime rates with a growing national population. Research also shows that as the national economy declines, crime rates and the incidence of alcohol-related crime also increase.

The U.S. is experiencing a rise in “at-risk” populations
Typically younger males aged 15-25
In particular, of African American or Hispanic descent
Our aging prison population, which is growing because of longer sentences and various sentencing policies
An older inmate population contributes to higher health care expenses
A higher female prison population, which has increased by 57% since 1995 (vs. 34% for males)
Female prisoners may require specialized programs and services, which also leads to higher operating costs
60% of the jail population suffers from a mental health disorder, compared with 10.6% of the general population.

Sources
“Public Safety, Public Spending” (2008), The Pew Charitable Trusts
“Prisoners in 2006” (2007), Bureau of Justice Statistics
“Prisoners in 2007” (2008), Bureau of Justice Statistics

Rising Costs of Incarceration

Prison operating costs will increase by $2.5 billion/year to as much as $5 billion/year by 2011
By 2011, the price tag for housing the projected 192,000 new prisoners could add an additional $27.5 billion to taxpayer costs – with $15 billion in operating costs and $12.5 billion in new construction costs
Operational costs (the day-to-day expenses, including personnel salaries, medical services, and programs) is almost thirty times that of capital costs
Capital costs (land, construction, and renovations of existing facilities) are also increasing
For states, prisons are the fourth-largest budget item – behind health, education, and transportation
High turnover among prison employees and low salaries make it difficult to recruit qualified staff, especially for prisons located in economically-depressed rural areas
Prison beds each cost between $25,000 and $100,000, depending on inmate security levels
Incarceration costs are $21.403/pp annually, compared with $2,198 for community-based substance abuse treatment and $3,296 for intensive community supervision.

Sources
“Public Safety, Public Spending” (2008), The Pew Charitable Trusts
“Prisoners in 2006” (2007), Bureau of Justice Statistics
“Prisoners in 2007” (2008), Bureau of Justice Statistics

Alcohol and Crime


From a criminal justice standpoint, alcohol offenders are overwhelming our system and contributing to unwieldy court dockets, burdensome caseloads, and overcrowded jails and prisons. Data gathered from courts shows that alcohol plays a significant role as a contributing factor in the crimes that put a large percentage of the prison population behind bars.

Research has found that using incarceration as a sanction for alcohol offenders is not only expensive, but is minimally effective because it doesn’t help them address the core of their problem – alcohol addiction. For many of these offenders, they serve their time behind bars but once they return to their old environments with the same drinking triggers, a high percentage of them recidivate if their addiction hasn’t been treated and resolved. For example, the number of people sentenced to substance abuse or mental health programs outside of jail dropped 25% between 2005 and 2006.1

Jail and Prison Overcrowding Statistics

Each year, over 600,000 people are admitted to state and federal prisons, and over 10 million are incarcerated in local jails
Adding prison, jail, and probation populations together, the U.S. corrections population exceeds 7 million people – or 1 in every 32 U.S. adults
Approximately 40% of offenders committing technical violations of parole conditions are sent back to jail – taking up valuable space that could be better used for those committing more serious crimes
The average annual operating cost per state was $23,876 – or $65.41/day
Among facilities operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, it was $23,429 per inmate – or $64.19/day
By 2011, the Western U.S. states will experience the greatest prison population increases (18%), while the Northeast will experience the lowest (7%)
Jails populations are rising at a higher rate than prison populations, and the number of people in jails has doubled since 1990
Sources
“Public Safety, Public Spending” (2008), The Pew Charitable Trusts
“Prisoners in 2007” (2008), Bureau of Justice Statistics
“Jailing Communities” (2008), Justice Policy Institute
http://www.dgshi.cn/content/200908/112143.html
http://www.jailovercrowding.com/index/the-problem

OK OJ drinkers. What recommendations do you have for our governor?


About Larry Gilbert