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Prison Facts

As of 2005, there are 2 million people locked up in federal, state, and county facilities. Though crime rates are down, that's up more than 600% since the 1970s. More than 6 million people are under state supervision in the form of parole or probation. The United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world.

Black men are 6% of the U.S. population but over 40% of our prison population. 

Every day in the United States 200 new jail cells are constructed.

Most prisoners come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Most have not completed high school. Many can barely read. Roughly one-third were been unemployed before imprisonment. Another third had annual incomes of less than $5,000.

Children of incarcerated parents have increased risk of anxiety, depression, aggression, truancy, attention disorders and poor scholastic performance.

Black people are 7.8 times more likely to be imprisoned than whites, when convicted of the same crime.

Prisons cost taxpayers more than $32 billion a year. Every year that an inmate spends in prison costs $22,000. An individual sentenced to five years for a $300 theft costs the public more than $100,000. The cost of a life term averages $1.5 million.

States are spending more money on prisons than education. Over the course of the last 20 years, the amount of money spent on prisons was increased by 570% while that spent on elementary and secondary education was increased by only 33%.

Compiled by Manny Fortunato

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online May 21, 2004,  latest revision September 26, 2006

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