JPay Blog

American Prison Numbers on the Rise

A new study says that one in 31 American adults is caught up in the prison system. The Pew Center on the States says the rate of people jailed or on probation or using some form of monitoring doubled over the course of 25 years. Justice Department figures also suggest the U.S. has the highest jailbird population on the planet. In these tough economic times, it means states are spending on average 29-thousand dollars a year to keep each offender incarcerated.

The total amount has ballooned too as prison populations exploded 274 percent since 1982. States spent nearly 52-billion dollars last year to house some two-point-three million souls. Only Medicaid costs have risen faster.

In contrast, managing offenders on probation costs about 12-hundred dollars a year and parolees cost around 27-hundred a year. Pew’s project director said it all boils down to the choices states make and not to crime trends or social or economic factors.

Georgia ranks at the bottom with one in 13 adults milling through the corrections system. That’s followed by Idaho where the rate is one in 18, and Texas, where it’s one in 22. Click here to seewhere Arkansas ranks in the study.

Pew analysts say states are simply spending too much. They have many cheaper options including better community supervision and even technologies like ankle monitors, GPS devices and electronic check-in kiosks.