prison population

11 Stories

Money Is Driving End of 'Draconian' Drug Sentences

Brad Plumer looks at the DOJ's budget

(Newser) - In announcing yesterday that it planned to do away with "draconian" mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug offenders, the Justice Department is righting an injustice, right? As Eric Holder explained it, "Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good... More »

Here's Our Real Prison Problem

Nobody knows what jails are supposed to do

(Newser) - America is incarcerating more people than ever, and more states are turning to private prisons to lock them up. Trying to figure out whether these private facilities are worth it raises a more fundamental question for Andrew Price: "What is the service that prisons are supposed to deliver?" he... More »

Plan to Free 27K Inmates Threatens Calif. Budget Deal

(Newser) - A plan to slash the number of inmates by 27,000 could sink California's long-delayed budget deal, the Los Angeles Times reports. Angry Republican state lawmakers threatened to back out of the agreement after learning of the plan, which would give prison officials authority to let any inmate over 60... More »

Never Mind Gitmo—the Real Prison Problem Is Here

(Newser) - The collective freak-out over closing Guantanamo proves that Americans do care about prisons and prisoners, but Gitmo “is a mere speck in the eye of America’s larger prison program,” writes Dahlia Lithwick in Newsweek. That’s why Sen. Jim Webb of the “lock ‘em up”... More »

Number of Blacks Jailed for Drugs Declines

But number of white inmates increases

(Newser) - A profound shift may be under way in the racial makeup of the nation's prison population, the Washington Post reports. For the first time in 20 years, the number of blacks imprisoned for drug offenses is falling sharply while the number of whites is rising, the Washington Post reports. One... More »

Recession to Unlock Wave of Ex-Cons

(Newser) - Thousands of prisoners around the country will have the recession to thank for setting them free, Ken Steir writes in Time. With California planning to release nearly 160,000 prisoners from under-funded, overcrowded prisons, and other states transferring drug convicts to rehab, the US is likely to see a wave... More »

Black Leaders Pin High Hopes on New AG

Civil rights advocates see opportunity for change under Holder

(Newser) - For decades, black men have been arrested, convicted, and sentenced to execution at disproportionate rates. Now, with the appointment of the country's first African-American attorney general, black leaders are hoping Eric Holder will help the Justice Department reform what they see as a broken system. "The most important thing... More »

1 in 100 Americans in Prison

'Tough on crime' proving expensive stance as state resources dwindle, study reports

(Newser) - 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... More »

Calif. Crunch May Force Drastic Cuts

State might slash education funds, free inmates early

(Newser) - California's dire financial straits may force the early release of 30,000 low-risk inmates and bring drastic cuts in education, the Los Angeles Times reports. Arnold Schwarzenegger will declare a fiscal emergency next month as the state wrestles with a $14.5 billion budget gap. The governor has ordered agencies... More »

Filling Jails Doesn't Cut Crime

Study concludes that longer sentences don't make streets safer

(Newser) - Getting tough on criminals through longer prison terms—at an annual cost of tens of billions of US taxpayer dollars—hasn't made a major impact on crime, concludes a study released yesterday. The US prison population has increased 800% since 1970—giving the nation has the world's highest incarceration rate—... More »

Packed Prisons 'Costly Failure'

Report calls for shorter sentences, quicker paroles, aid on release

(Newser) - America's prisons, crammed with 2.2 million inmates, are an expensive failure, according to a report by a Washington criminal justice research group. The JFA Institute calls for shorter sentences and parole terms, alternative punishments and decriminalizing recreational drugs—steps that would cut the prison population in half and save... More »

11 Stories