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February 28, 2008

Richard Florida

The Jailed Map

« The Entrepeneurial City | Main | Music and Economic Development »

According this AP story a new report from the Pew Foundation finds that:

For the first time in U.S. history, more than one of every 100 adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report documenting America's rank as the world's No. 1 incarcerator. It urges states to curtail corrections spending by placing fewer low-risk offenders behind bars.

Using state-by-state data, the report says 2,319,258 Americans were in jail or prison at the start of 2008 _ one out of every 99.1 adults. Whether per capita or in raw numbers, it's more than any other nation.

The report, released Thursday by the Pew Center on the States, said the 50 states spent more than $49 billion on corrections last year, up from less than $11 billion 20 years earlier. The rate of increase for prison costs was six times greater than for higher education spending, the report said ...

"For some groups, the incarceration numbers are especially startling," the report said. "While one in 30 men between the ages of 20 and 34 is behind bars, for black males in that age group the figure is one in nine." ...

The report said the United States incarcerates more people than any other nation, far ahead of more populous China with 1.5 million people behind bars. It said the U.S. also is the leader in inmates per capita (750 per 100,000 people), ahead of Russia (628 per 100,000) and other former Soviet bloc nations which round out the Top 10.

Ugh ... What a gargantuan waste of talent and energy - a dead-weight cost on long-run competitiveness.


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Corey McLellan

This would be a much better map (but less colorful, I presume) if it displayed percentage of a state's population incarcerated. As it stands now, you've basically got a map of the states that conforms to overall population, i.e. the more populous a state overall, the darker it is on this map, too. It's an alarming milestone for us to reach, but an alarmingly bad way of representing the phenomenon.

Mike Linacre

This high percentage also suggests the we should have really energetic educational programs in prisons. We have the "captive students" that every teacher wishes she had. No prisoner should be released who is functionally illiterate.

Zoe B

Now that many prisons are private, for-profit facilities, there is a moneyed constituency to lobby for keeping the rate of incarceration high.

Michael Wells

This is the result of the mandatory sentencing craze of the last couple of decades. The fear of crime, even when it's hit almost record lows, has built support for destructive social policy. This year in Oregon one of the right-wing demagogues has gotten a measure in the ballot for prison for nonviolent first offenses. As someone who's been burglerized twice and had 3 car radios stolen I don't have a lot of sympathy for property criminals, but I don't want to pay for them to go to criminal grad school and become unemployable.

Shawn Petriw

America: Land of the Free?

This is a brutal statistic for a brutal nation. The US economy is tanking now; imagine if it eliminated the false economy of the "security" business and the military-industrial complex. It would be a third-world nation. Believe it.


This is truly disgusting, especially the idea of for-profit prisons. Hopefully this study will make more people question why we're wasting money and talent like this.

Scott Clark

I was highly discouraged that my home state of Kentucky showed the highest growth rate of prisoners - now 1 in 100 citizens of Kentucky is an inmate.


Safety Tips and Precautions

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Remove Obscurity
Make sure your there are no bushes that obscure windows and may hide burglars from being seen, breaking in.

Present an Occupied Appearance
Burglars have no interest in meeting their victims. Most burglars are opportunists and just cruise neighborhoods. Turn on a few lights to create the impression that you're home.

Remove Debris
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Reveal Nothing
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Personal Information
Write ONLY your name on keyrings for parking lots, carwashes and service garages. Be discreet when filling out personal checks. Do not give the wrong people your personal information.

Clean Your Lawn
Yes, clean your lawn. An unkempt lawn is an indication that the homeowner is away for a long period! Keep your lawn clean and have it moved regularly.

Daily Safety Checks
Make sure to turn on your security alarm system at night and in your absence.
Use doors that feature wide-angle peepholes at heights everyone can use.
Also include electronic motion sensors near peripheral doors and install glass break detectors near the windows of your residence.
Keep all doors locked at night and every time you leave your home.

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