Record 2.3M Crowd US Prisons
Federal report describes system in crisis
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2008 5:46 AM CDT
The gymnasium at San Quentin State Prison is filled with nearly 400 double-bunked inmates because of overcrowding.    (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
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(Newser) – A record 7.2 million criminals were behind bars, on parole, or being supervised on probation in 2006—a figure that cost taxpayers $45 billion and has states rethinking sentencing laws and shipping inmates elsewhere, the Washington Post reports. Of that number, 2.3 million people were in jail or prison, the highest of any nation.

"There are a number of states that have talked about an early release of prisoners deemed non-threatening," said one analyst from a centrist think tank. "The problem just keeps getting bigger and bigger. You're paying a lot of money here. You have to ask if some of these high mandatory minimum sentences make sense."