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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Too Many Americans Behind Bars?

At Powerline, Paul Mirgengoff discusses the familiar claims that the United States puts too many people behind bars.
But are these claims rooted in fact? Not according to a paper by Michael Rushford, President & CEO of the Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation (via Crime and Consequences).
The statistical claim that we house nearly 25 percent of world prisoners is bogus, as one would expect from an outfit like the Centre that is funded by George Soros’ Open Society Foundation. In America, we report our prison population honestly and include folks who spend a few days in the country lock-up (data that often is unavailable from other countries, according to Rushford). Does anyone imagine that nations like China (with its 1.3 billion population), North Korea, and Iran report their prison numbers honestly?
As for the composition of U.S. prisoners, Rushford points out that drug offenders are in the minority, and the vast majority of such offenders were convicted of dealing.
87 percent of U.S. prisoners are in state prisons. According to the Department of Justice, 54 percent of state inmates are serving sentences for violent crimes; 19 percent for property crimes; and only 16 percent for drug offenses. Almost all inmates, particularly property and drug offenders, received a plea bargain, meaning they agreed to plead guilty to lesser crimes than they actually committed, again according to Rushford.
In federal prisons, nearly half the inmates (48.3 percent) are drug offenders. But, as noted, federal jails hold only 13 percent of U.S. prisoners. Rushford points to a study by the Urban Institute which found that 99.5 percent of drug offenders in federal prisons are dealers.