11 Stunning Facts About America's Prisons


Photo: cliff 1066 via flickr

The U.S. has a greater percentage of its population locked up than any other country in the world.Despite budget cuts and tax shortfalls housing inmates costs the country almost $600 billion a year.

Despite the rising incarceration rates over the last decade, crime is actually down.

High inmate populations are blamed on mandatory sentencing and over-zealous drug laws.


In 2009 there were 7.2 million people in prison and under official supervision like probation -- a larger population than the state of Washington

Between 1987 and 2007 the national prison population tripled

4 in 10 prisoners return to state prisons within three years of release

One in 30 men between 20 and 34 is behind bars -- and up to one in 13 in one state

One in nine black men between 20 and 34 are behind bars

734 out of every 100,000 people are behind bars in the U.S. -- far and away the highest number in the world

Russia and South Africa are our nearest competitor

Part of the bizarre prison black market, a thimbleful of tobacco can fetch up to $50 at a maximum security prison

Typically parole programs cost taxpayers $7.47 per day per parolee, while prisons cost $78.95 per day per inmate nationwide.

Some prisoners cost more. It costs New Jersey $253 million every year to house just its death row prisoners -- $11 million apiece

Between 1987 and 2007 state prison costs rose by 315 per cent to $44.06 billion a year

Many times it's simple mistakes that send people to the slammer

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