Monday, April 25, 2005

Over the head of the Houston Chron.

Crime: There has to be a reason..but what..someone figure it out.

Crime rate down, but prison population on the rise By SIOBHAN McDONOUGH WASHINGTON — While the U.S. crime rate has fallen over the past decade, the number of people in prison and jail is outpacing the number of inmates released, the government reports. The population of the nation's prisons and jails has grown by about 900 inmates each week between mid-2003 and mid-2004, according to figures released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. By last June 30 the system held 2.1 million people, or one in every 138 U.S. residents. Texas, the state with the most people behind bars, reported that its prison population climbed from 167,532 inmates in 2003 to 169,110 inmates in 2004, an increase of 0.9 percent. Paige Harrison, the report's co-author, said the U.S. increase can be attributed largely to get-tough policies enacted in the 1980s and 1990s. Among them are mandatory drug sentences, "three-strikes-and-you're-out" laws for repeat offenders and "truth-in-sentencing" laws that restrict early releases. "As a whole most of these policies remain in place," she said. "These policies were a reaction to the rise in crime in the '80s and early '90s."

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