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