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U.S. Numbers of Incarcerated Reaches Record High

According to new figures released by the federal government, a record 6.6 million individuals in the U.S. are currently under the supervision of the nation’s correctional system. The number of adults in prison, on parole, or on probation, rose by 2.3%, or by 147,700 people, between 2000 and 2001. Marc Mauer of the Sentencing Group, which advocates increasing the usage of alternatives to incarceration, commented that “the overall figures suggest that we’ve come to rely on the criminal justice system as a way of responding to social problems in a way that’s unprecedented.” Groups like the Sentencing Project note that over _ of the U.S. prison population is incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses, and that incarceration generally does little to stem drug problems, often instead increasing an individual’s likelihood to continue drug abuse and to get rearrested. The release of the federal figures comes on the heels of a study by the Justice Policy Institute which found that the number of black men in jail or prison has grown significantly in the past 20 years, to the point where there are now significantly more black men incarcerated than in college or university.

Sources:

Associated Press, 08/26/02 & New York Times, 08/28/02