One American adult out of 100 is incarcerated, a new study shows—the first time in US history such a high proportion of the population is behind bars. The Pew Center on the States reports the nationwide prison population grew by 25,000 last year, to 1.6 million, with around 700,000 others in local jails.
“Incarceration is an easy response to crime,” the center’s director tells the New York Times. “Being tough on crime is an easy position to take, particularly if you have the money. And we did have the money in the ’80s and ’90s.” But the rising expense—an average 7% of state budgets—is prompting some states to consider alternate approaches for nonviolent offenders.