Trends in Recent Incarceration Rates in Adults in the United States - USA Essay Example




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The United States holds the highest frequency of incarceration in the world, of about 1 to a 100 people imprisoned, it represents a very steeply increasing trend towards crime and incarceration. While the sad part being that this increase in imprisonment is not even leading to any decrease in crime in the country, but is rather creating problems such as overcrowding, poor health facilities, and high costs of maintenance at the prisons.

Trends of Incarceration of Adults in the U.S

Considering not only defendants race ( for example black-white dissimilarities) in condemnation but escalating our focal point to furthermore embrace defendant’s background ( for instance, Hispanic white and black differentiation) is a necessity in order to not misrepresent black-white differentiation and sentence justly, (Demuth, S., & Steffensmeier, D., 2004). Since 1980, the incarceration rate in the United States has more then tripled with a larger number of incarcerations being individuals born in a foreign country and other non-English-speaking persons increasing the most. Should defendants be sentenced on the crime alone or should their ethnicity be considered? Society has rules and laws to protect it from offenders, if you break those laws, you must pay the consequences and a crime is a crime no matter the race or ethnicity of who commits it.

Incarceration is literally termed as detaining a person, either convicted or suspected for a crime in the prison or jail; the frequency of this detention, its time period and also severity varies from place to place and has significantly altered over time. Whereas, human rights activists have always been keen about the ethics and motives of individuals under incarceration making sure that they are treated fairly.

The prisons of the United States are put by law under the regional and national governments, under the constitution of the country. While the form of the prison located to the criminal depends upon the seriousness of his crime, thus it may range from a house arrest to the Supermax which holds many terrorists and serious criminals with a very high security system. While the duration of incarceration depends upon the severity of crime and its type, and thus the judge’s decision could vary also from one state to the other slightly due to different laws.

The United States has one of the highest frequencies of incarceration in the world, which in 2005 was recorded as 737 persons per every 100,000, given by the American Department of Justice itself, while another report published in 2008 exaggerates this number to 1 for every 100 people, which amounts to about one fourth of the world’s incarcerated population, according to figures collected by Pew Public Safety Performance Project. United States of America has the utmost imprisoned population in the world, which is of about 2.3 million, followed by China which contributes 1.5 million of its people. (The Pew Center on the States, 2008)

The US prisons on a whole hold about 2,299,116 inmates, according to statistics collected from the US Department of Justice, which has increased by more than four times in less than three decades. One of the reasons of this recent increase in the prison population is new drug laws and also the iv\creasing frequency of property frauds and petty crimes around the country. In 2004 the three states reported with the least incarceration rate include Rhodes Island, Minnesota, and Maine; whereas the ones with the greatest rate include Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. (US Department of Justice 2009)

Out of the population of the 2.3 million people imprisoned, one million are those who are serving imprisonment under non aggressive crimes. Bureau of Justice in 2002 and 2005 further releases, that out of the inmates, approximately 92% of them were males, with 10.4% black males; whereas about 27% of the inmates were non Americans and maybe arrested legally or illegally residing in the country. Moreover, the country also holds the greatest amount of incarceration detail available in the world. (US Department of Justice 2009)

No matter the prison population increased by only 8% from 2000 to 2005, but that of the older inmates grew by 33 and the younger by 55%. With men being, 10 times greater in population in the prisons. Also through the Criminal Justice Laws and the juvenile courts the US retains the greatest amount of youth than any other nation in the world; with approximately half million youngsters being brought to jail in a year. (US Department of Justice 2009)

Violence acts within the prison itself can be seen throughout the world, in US rape cases are seen at the highest when 21% of the inmates claim to have been forced into sexual activities. While non government organizations claimed in 2003, that 20 to 40% of the prison population suffered from Hepatitis C, and needed proper medical facilities, the second major problem faced by them includes overcrowding, with the increasing population this issue should be immediately catered to. (US Department of Justice 2009)

In recent times there has been an argument to privatize the state and federal prisons in order to reduce the costs; but on the other hand this might be an act of putting the conditions of the prisoners and their available facilities at a risk while the free market creating a demand for prisoners.

According to the an article published in the Washington Post, (2006), named as “U.S. Prison Study Faults System and the Public,” the US spends about $88 per person and about $60 billion upon its inmates in a year. (Slevin, 2006).


People who believe in the laws of incarceration, support it through two points that this serves as a punishment as well as rehabilitation of the individual involved; that is it protects the society from crime, it is a form of revenge for the person who was ill treated and is also a way of changing the thinking and negative mind of the evil doers involved in crime. Therefore both criminal and society benefits, while it is the responsibility of the institute itself to make sure that the prisoner is provided with the right environment through which he is able to embrace a better behavior rather than coming out as an even a greater threat.



















Greenfeld, L. A.,  Beck, A.,  &  Gilliard, D.  Prisons: Population trends and key issues for management.  Criminal Justice Review


Human Development Report 2007- 2008.  Crime and Justice. Retieved on January 11, 2009 from


The Pew Center on the States (2008).One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008. Public Safety performance project. Retrieved from:


Paige, M, H. & Allen J, B. (November 2006). Prisoners in 2005. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics.


Slevin, P. (2006). U.S. Prison Study Faults System and the Public. The Washington Post


US Department of Justice (2009). Prison Statistics. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved from



Demuth, S., & Steffensmeier, D. (2004). Ethinicity effects on sentence outcomes in large urban courts: Comparisons among white, black, and Hispanic defendants. Social Science Quarterly,




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