On April 30th, the National Research Council published a 464-page report on the stunning four-decade rise in the rate of criminal incarceration in the United States. The number of people in America’s prisons and jails has increased from about 200,000 in 1973 to about 2.23 million in 2009, earning the United States the dubious distinction of the world leader in prisoner population. State spending on corrections has increased by 400 percent in the last three decades, and state prison populations increased by 475 percent over the same period (1980 – 2009). The rise in federal and local corrections costs has been similarly steep.

The report, commissioned by the National Institute of Justice and the MacArthur Foundation, concludes that the costs – to families, communities, government budgets and society in general – have simply not been worth the benefits in terms of crime deterrence and reduction.

The report was recently summarized in an article published in The Washington Post, which also includes a link to the full NRC report. You can read the article here.

To read the article, click here.