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The Color of Crime and Punishment

A Response to Glenn C. Loury

(by Jens Soering)

“Why Are So Many Americans in Prison?” asked Brown University economics professor Glenn C. Loury in the Boston Review of July/August 2007.  That is a timely question indeed, given the U.S. correctional population of 2.38 million.[i]  No other nation in the world has that many inmates; Communist China runs a distant second with 1.5 million behind bars.[ii]

On a per capita basis, too, America leads the world.  The U.S. incarceration rate of 751 prisoners per 100,000 civilians easily tops Russia with 613 per 100,000.[iii]  The world average is 166.[iv]

Although America has only 4.6% of the earth’s population, 22% of all the prisoners on the planet are incarcerated here.[v]

Figures like these are sufficiently disturbing to pique the interest of legislators across the political spectrum.  While U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) champions prison reform initiatives like the Second Chance Act, for instance, U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-Virginia) held a first-ever congressional hearing on the bloated correctional system in October 2007.[vi]  Unfortunately, Professor Loury’s Boston Review article and subsequent testimony at Senator Webb’s hearing did great harm to reform efforts by offering a flawed analysis of the problem and, based on this analysis, a set of proposed solutions that cannot succeed.

His fundamental error is revealed in the article’s subtitle, “Race and the transformation of criminal justice.”  Of course there are racial disparities in the court and correctional systems that can only be described as obscene.  As we shall see below, however, racism is not the cause of these racial disparities.

Consider the inmate population in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers.  Although the great majority are Hispanics, we understand that the cause of this racial disparity is not racism but the enormous inequality of wealth between the United States and its southern neighbors.  Attempting to solve the problem of illegal immigration with anti-discrimination programs for border guards will not work.

Yet that is the approach Loury would have us take in regard to the vast over-representation of African-Americans in U.S. jails and penitentiaries.  His article calls for “substantive racial justice,” including “far-reaching institutional reforms.”  To achieve this objective, he believes America needs to implement the philosopher “John Rawls’s theory of justice:  …  What social rules would we pick if we actually thought they [lower-class blacks] could be us [upper-middle-class whites]?”

This sort of philosophizing about ethics may eventually bring about peace on earth and good will among men, but the African-American community should not have to wait that long.  Moreover, by addressing the real cause of excessive imprisonment generally, both blacks and whites, both inmates and civilians will benefit in the foreseeable future.  Real criminal justice reform is possible, if we discard the shibboleth of racism.

Racial disparities

Ironically enough, the best place to begin an analysis of the real cause of over-incarceration is with the racial disparities that Loury rightly decries.  At least in broad terms, most of us are aware of the kinds of statistics worrying him:  African-Americans make up 12.8% of the U.S. population but 38% of all prisoners[vii]; blacks are incarcerated at six times the rates of whites (according to the latest report by the Sentencing Project; Loury claims eight-to-one)[viii]; 32% of African-American males can expect to enter prison during their lifetimes, compared to 5.9% of Caucasian American men.[ix]  So familiar are figures like these that many of us have become inured to them.

Instead of reciting facts, perhaps we should look at trends.  Consider, for instance, how recently the racial disparities above developed:  In 1984, Caucasian Americans still comprised 60% of all inmates,[x] but by 2004, 68% of the prison population belonged to minority groups.[xi]  What could have caused a demographic shift of that magnitude?

Loury’s favored explanation, racism, does not fit the facts.  During those two decades, Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell, Michael Jordan, Wynton Marsalis and Oprah Winfrey reached professional heights and gained cross-racial acceptance that no African-American had hitherto achieved.  Thus some force other than widespread, general hatred of blacks must have been at work in the criminal justice system between 1984 and 2004.

Now consider the fact that in recent years, the percentage of the correctional population that is black has been dropping:  from 43% in 2000 to 38% in 2006.  Yet the sheer number of African-Americans behind bars reached a new height in 2006 (the latest year for which figures are available):  905,600.[xii]  What this means is that ever-more African-Americans are being incarcerated, but the number of non-black (Caucasian and Hispanic) inmates is rising even faster.  The prison system as a whole keeps growing and growing, with a slight shift in the target sector of expansion:  from black to brown and white.

Prison-bred diseases

In addition to depriving record numbers of African-Americans of their freedom, the criminal justice system is now also taking their health and their very lives.  How so?  Through the spread of prison-bred diseases like HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C.

In the mid-1980s, for instance, HIV was approximately as common among whites as it was among blacks.  But today, African-American men are seven times as likely to be infected as Caucasian men, and black women are nineteen times as likely to have contracted the disease as white women.  In a study of 850,000 men and women who acquired the HIV virus between 1982 and 1996, Professors Rucker C. Johnson and Stephen Raphael of the University of California, Berkeley, determined the cause of this divergence to be the much higher rates of African-American incarceration during those years.[xiii]  Prisons are ideal incubators for disease, thanks to widespread situational homosexuality, drug abuse and tattooing.

But HIV may be the least of the black communities’ worries:  While only 2.2% of state prisoners have been officially diagnosed with the virus that causes AIDS, [xiv] approximately 40% of inmates have contracted Hepatitis C.[xv]  This blood-borne chronic disease of the liver can go undetected for years before it kills – plenty of time for released prisoners to transmit the virus to family and friends.  And since 68% of those discharged inmates belong to minority groups, it is primarily the African-American and Hispanic communities where Hepatitis C is spreading.

What we should note carefully here is that the victims of convict-borne diseases are indeed mostly black and brown – but the cause of this phenomenon is not racism.  Why do fewer than 10% of prisoners with Hepatitis C receive treatment?  Because “budgets are tight, and treatment is expensive.  So prison officials close their eyes to the gathering emergency and pass it along to the outside world,” reports the Associated Press.[xvi]  According to the New York Times, “many jails and prisons have backed away from testing [for HIV] for fear that they will be required to pay for treatment.”[xvii]

Not hatred of blacks but love of money is causing African-Americans to suffer and die.

Comparing incarceration rates

In his Boston Review article and subsequent congressional testimony Professor Loury made much of the fact that the U.S. incarceration rate of 751 per 100,000 is many times higher than that of other industrialized nations.  Japan locks up only 58 per 100,000, the five Scandinavian countries 39 to 75, Germany 96, and England – the most punitive country in Europe – 142.  Even America’s closest cultural cousin and neighbor, Canada, imprisons just 116 per 100,000.[xviii]  What Loury fails to address, however, is the obvious question:  Are these nations’ crime rates comparable to the United States’?

Here we are in for a major surprise.  According to the International Crime Victim Survey, conducted by Dutch researchers, the seventeen industrialized countries studied all experienced crime victimization rates of 15 to 25%.[xix]  The average was 21%, which happened to be the U.S. rate, too.  So Americans are not vastly more lawless and crazed than the citizens of other “first world” nations.

But instead of comparing the national U.S. incarceration and crime rates to those of foreign countries, we could as easily turn to Maine:  The Pine Tree State imprisons just 151 residents out of 100,000.[xx]  While Maine is not typical of America as a whole, it is one of the 48 contiguous states and only a short drive from Boston, a major metropolis with all the usual crime-generating social problems.  Seven states (including New York!) have lower crime rates than Maine, but incarcerate a higher percentage of offenders.[xxi]  Clearly, that is by choice, not by necessity.

We should note here that the sky-high national incarceration rate is a relatively recent development, not something deeply ingrained in American culture.  As recently as 35 years ago, the inmate population numbered only 300,000 or so.[xxii]  Instead of reducing the number of prisoners, however, the United States is about to expand its correctional population dramatically.

The Pew Charitable Trusts released a study in February 2007 that forecast a 13% increase in the number of men and women behind bars.[xxiii]  In September 2007, the U.S. Census Bureau appeared to dial back that projection to a mere 4%.[xxiv]  But then the business magazine Barron’s published a comparative analysis in October 2007 that determined the Pew report to be the more accurate of the two.[xxv]

Bad news for America?  That depends on your perspective.  “Crime, you see, does pay if you’re a sharp-eyed investor,” explains Barron’s Jim McTeague.  “Specifically, there’s money to be made in shares of prison companies like GEO Group, Corrections Corp. of America and Cornell Co.”  According to the Pew report, that 13% expansion of the prison system will cost $27.5 billion – a windfall for correctional entrepreneurs.

Crime and incarceration

Those $27.5 billion will be money well-spent, however, because prisons reduce crime – right?  Wrong!  Despite the nearly 800% growth of the correctional system over the last 35 years, the crime rate today is the same as in the early 1970s.[xxvi]

For most Americans, subjected to endless media reports about “rising” crime, this fact is almost impossible to believe.  But it really is true, says Brian Roehrkasse of the Department of Justice:  The overall crime rate in 2007 “was the lowest crime rate measured … in more than 30 years.”[xxvii]

So raising the number of inmates by more than 2 million over three decades had no overall effect on crime.  None.

According to the Vera Institute’s survey of the best current criminological research, Reconsidering Incarceration:  New Directions for Reducing Crime, “The most sophisticated studies available generally agree that increased incarceration rates have some impact on reducing crime rates, but the scope of that impact is limited.”[xxviii]  Conservative criminologist James Q. Wilson agrees:  “Very large increases in prison population can only produce modest reductions in crime.”[xxix]

What the Vera Institute found is that the rise in the incarceration rate during the 1990s contributed just one quarter of the drop in the crime rate that occurred after the anomalous crack cocaine “spike” of the late 1980s.  Even “one quarter” may sound good to some, but consider the numbers.

Between 1991 and 2001, the number of inmates rose 51.6% while the crime rate fell 29.5%.[xxx]  However, only one quarter of that 29.5% reduction in crime was due to greater levels of imprisonment!  Thus by increasing the number of prisoners by more than half (51.6%), America lowered crime just 7.4% (one quarter of 29.5%).

What caused three-quarters of the drop in levels of offending during the 1990s?  A buoyant economy, a smaller population of crime-prone teenagers, and changes in law enforcement practices.[xxxi]

The “rising” crime rate of 2005/2006

When we turn to the “rising” crime rate of 2005 and 2006 – “the next crime wave,” as Time magazine breathlessly called it – we encounter another surprise:[xxxii]  “The increase in [the violent crime rate of] 2005 was so small that the 2005 rate was still 1 percent below the 2003 rate,” explains the American Correctional Association’s journal Correction Today.  “In all, there is little statistical support for an upcoming crime wave.”[xxxiii]  By mid-2007, in fact, the violent crime rate was reported to be falling again by 1.8%.[xxxiv]

Indeed, the overall crime rate – combining violent and nonviolent offenses – never stopped falling.  According to the FBI report Crime in the United States, 2006, released in September 2007, violent crime rose 1.9% in 2006, and nonviolent crime dropped 1.9%.[xxxv]  There are roughly seven nonviolent offenses for every violent one, however, so the total number of all[xxxvi] crimes actually fell by 155,000 in 2006.

So why did the media hyperventilate about a “rise” in crime in 2005 and 2006?  In part to attract readers and viewers, of course – but also because the law enforcement community had just launched a major campaign to improve its cash flow.

Federal grants to local and state police “have been cut by more than $2 billion since 2002,” reports the Washington Post.  As a result, “many police chiefs and law enforcement officials complain that the Bush administration has retreated from fighting traditional crime in favor of combating terrorism.”[xxxvii]  In fact, they have done more than complain, says USA Today:  The International Association of Chiefs of Police “has been pushing for more crime fighting funds.”[xxxviii]

David Muhlhausen, a crime analyst for the conservative Heritage Foundation, puts it more bluntly:  “Police chiefs are trying to ‘shake down’ the government for more money.”[xxxix]

The prison-industrial complex

As it happens, money is also the primary driving force behind the unprecedented expansion of the correctional system – not racism, as Professor Loury would have us believe.  “Crime and punishment in America has a color,” he wrote in the Boston Review.  But that color is the familiar green of the dollar bill.

Over the last 30 years or so, big business and organized labor formed an unspoken alliance, a prison-industrial complex that feeds at the trough of correctional budgets.  This trough is enormous:  Each year America spends $63 billion on its jails and penitentiaries.[xl]  To keep that green river of dollars flowing and growing, the prison-industrial complex exploits fear of crime much as the military-industrial complex once exploited fear of communism.

All this is relatively new.  In the early 1970s, companies like the GEO Group or Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) had not even been founded, and guards unions like the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) were little more than social clubs. Today CCA and CCPOA dole out millions of dollars in political contributions to ensure that legislators keep spending billions of dollars on prisons.

To understand the financial forces at work, we must shift our perspective.  Taxpayers see the $63 billion correctional budget as an enormous but necessary burden; each inmate represents an additional expense of $22,650 annually.[xli]  But to CCA and CCPOA those $63 billion represent an ocean of profits for investors and salary increases for union members; every prisoner is a revenue stream worth $22,650 a year.  The more inmates, the more revenue streams, the better!

Consider the range of money-making opportunities behind bars:
  • $4.3 billion per annum go to contractors like Heery + HLMDesign or Durrant Justice for designing and building correctional centers.[xlii]
  • $2 billion a year flow into the coffers of CCA, the GEO Group and other private prison operators.[xliii]
  • $2 billion annually go to companies that run jailhouse infirmaries, like Prison Health Services (PHS) and Correctional Medical Services (CMS).[xliv]
  • $1.5 billion is the estimated value of goods and services produced each year by convict laborers in tailorshops, call centers and the like.[xlv]
  • $1 billion per annum goes to companies like MCI-WorldCom, Sprint and Verizon, for operating correctional telephone systems.[xlvi]

And the list goes on and on. But big business is only one half of the prison-industrial complex; the other half, organized labor, is no less eager to profit from the correctional system. More that 747,000 men and women work in jails and penitentiaries across the land,[xlvii] and their unions fight hard for every dollar:
  • Thanks to the CCPOA, the average California prison guard now earns $73,000 a year – more than twice the average wage in the next-highest-paying state, and $20,000 more than the average California teacher’s salary.[xlviii]
  • Even though the state of New York actually managed to reduce its prison population in recent years, Governor Eliot Spitzer’s request in 2007 merely to study the possibility of shutting down a few penitentiaries went nowhere fast:  “We’re not open to any closures,” said Lawrence Flanagan, president of the New York State Correctional Offices and Police Benevolent Association.[xlix]
  • “With layoffs in the coal industry [in the state’s southwest], prisons are vital to the local and regional economy,” explains a Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) fact sheet.[l]  A similar brochure from the California DOC promises “600 to 1,000 new jobs and an annual payroll of $20 to $52 million” to any town willing to host a penitentiary.[li]  According to the Urban Institute, nearly one-third of U.S. counties have at least one jail or penitentiary; in Florida, 78% do.[lii]

Influencing policy

How does the prison-industrial complex ensure that America’s correctional system keeps growing?  Through political campaign contributions, of course.  An investigation by the San Jose Mercury News revealed that the CCPOA doled out $12.6 million to state legislators of both parties between 2000 and 2004.[liii]  Not to be outdone, the GEO Group alone gave a total of $114,157 to Republican candidates in the 2005-2006 election cycle, and another $74,725 to Democrats.[liv]

Who was the single largest recipient of GEO’s largesse in 2005/2006?  New Mexico’s Democratic Governor Bill Richardson; he received $42,750.[lv]  And which state has the highest percentage of its inmates in private penitentiaries?  New Mexico, at 44%.[lvi]

According to the New York Times, Prison Health Services went a little further than GEO:

Prison Health proved adept at ingratiating itself with local politicians, hiring lobbyists, and contributing to campaigns for sheriff.  Under a promise of immunity from prosecution, the nurse who founded the company, Mr. Moore, testified in a 1993 corruption trial that he paid the Broward County Republican Chairman $5,000 a month – “basically extortion,” he said – to keep the contract there and in neighboring Palm Beach County.[lvii]

So far we have seen that the prison-industrial complex has 63 billion motives a year to expand America’s prison system.  But is there any evidence that big business and organized labor actually helped shape criminal justice policy?  As a matter of fact, there is.

On the union side, the CCPOA spent $101,000 to lobby for passage of California’s “three strikes and you’re out” bill in 1994.[lviii]  This statute imposes a mandatory term of 25-years-to-life on all offenders convicted of three felonies, even if the crimes are non-violent.  To the guards union, the many thousands of lifers sentenced under the “three strikes” law represent lifetime job guarantees for the hundreds of officers required to watch them.  That is why the CCPOA invested another $1 million in 2004 to defeat Proposition 66, which would have excluded nonviolent offenders from the “three strikes” regime.[lix]

On the business side of the prison-industrial complex, CCA can rightfully claim a major role in abolishing parole through “truth in sentencing” legislation.  In the early 1990s, CCA helped draft the original parole-abolition “model” law for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a private industry lobbying group.  ALEC then pushed versions of this bill through 40 state legislatures, making “truth in sentencing” its most successful legislative product ever.[lx]  For CCA, these parole abolition measures are money in the bank:  Every additional year that an inmate spends behind bars is worth $22,650.

Most of the time, however, the prison-industrial complex does not need to promote specific criminal justice legislation to achieve its aims:  Politicians will keep on building jails and penitentiaries as long as the media stoke voters’ fear of “rising” crime.  To ensure that the public stays scared, the CCPOA spends $1 million annually on TV ads, a figure that rises to $10 million in election years.[lxi]  And it donates six-figure-sums to “Crime Victims United of California,” an especially sympathetic group whose calls for ever-tougher punishment just happen to serve the unions’ financial interests perfectly.[lxii]

The prison-industrial complex and racism

As the CCPOA’s sophisticated exploitation of crime victims demonstrates, the prison-industrial complex is fully aware of the importance of good public relations.  This means, on the one hand, that overt racism can play no part in its operations.  On the other hand, somebody has to go to prison for the business to continue – preferably somebody who is too poor, too young, too uneducated and too bereft of hope to complain very loudly.  In America, that means somebody black or brown, though “po’ white trash” will do in a pinch.

Much the same kind of thinking motivated slave traders in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  When they forced hundreds of Africans into the crowded, putrid holds of their sailing vessels, they did not do so because they hated blacks.  The slave traders simply wanted to maximize their profits, and Africans happened to be the least able to resist.

What matters most to the prison-industrial complex is not the color of the inmate, but that he or she be powerless, voiceless and friendless.  That may explain why elderly prisoners – those locked up so long that they have lost all ties to the outside world – are among the fastest-growing demographic groups in the correctional population.[lxiii]  It may also explain why America houses approximately 475,000 mentally ill people in jails and penitentiaries, but only 60,000 in psychiatric hospitals.[lxiv]  And it certainly explains the rapid expansion of privately-operated federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers; last year, they grew an amazing 43%.[lxv]

For CCA and the GEO Group, illegal immigrants make even better “customers” than inner-city blacks.  They have fewer legal rights, often cannot speak English, have no family or friends in the U.S. to fight for them, and get no support from high-profile advocates like the Rev. Jesse Jackson (or even Professor Loury).  Is it any wonder, then, that Wall Street analysts expect profit margins for immigration prisons to exceed 20%?[lxvi]

Combating the prison-industrial complex

Once we understand that money, not racism, has been propelling the three-decades-long expansion of the U.S. Correctional system, we can see why Loury’s proposed remedies – institutional anti-racism programs and John Rawls’s theory of justice – cannot succeed.  The only way to stop a successful business is to make it unprofitable!  To conclude this article, let us imagine a few laws that would make running a prison so expensive that correctional entrepreneurs would lose interest.  This approach has the advantage of having worked in the past.

A historical example – Under the Ashurst-Summers Act (18 U.SC. §§ 1761-62), prison factories were required to pay convict laborers the prevailing wage or the minimum wage, whichever was higher.  This statute effectively destroyed the competitive advantage of penitentiary sweatshops:  cheap labor.  But Congress repealed the Ashurst-Summers Act in 1979, and today this industry is worth $1.5 billion a year again.[lxvii]

The Private Prison Employee Equitable Wage Act – A measure similar to Ashurst-Summers could easily put an end to CCA, the GEO Group and the like.  In order to win government contracts and make money, these companies pay their guards lower wages than state-run correctional centers and, in many cases, operate their facilities with less than a full complement of staff.[lxviii]  The quickest way to ruin this exploitation-based business model would be a law requiring private prison operators to pay their employees the same wages as guards working for the state.

The Prison-bred Disease Prevention Act – Earlier we saw that most inmates with Hepatitis C and HIV do not receive treatment and then, upon release, infect family and friends. To protect the public (not prisoners!), every inmate in America should be tested and treated immediately.  That would add $9.4 billion to the nation’s annual prison bill for Hepatitis C alone:  roughly 940,000 prisoners carry the virus, and treatment costs $10,000 a year.

Since no state government could possibly pay for universal Hepatitis C treatment (let alone HIV, TB, MRSA and other prison-bred contagions), Departments of Correction would soon begin releasing convicts en masse – beginning with the hundreds of thousands of nonviolent offenders who arguably should never have been sentenced to prison in the first place, but to fines and community service.  Their illnesses would be left untreated, of course, but that this is already the case now, behind bars.  If they were freed, they would at least have the option of seeking treatment on their own.

Other legislation – In order to make prisons financially unattractive, reformers need only find politically palatable reasons to impose additional costs on Departments of Correction.  Those 476,000 officially diagnosed mentally ill inmates mentioned earlier, for instance, should surely receive real treatment – if only to prevent another Virginia Tech Massacre!  The real question is not whether America can figure out ways to legislate the prison-industrial complex into oblivion, but whether it wants to.

Do we really, truly want 1.6 to 1.8 million of today’s 2.38 million inmates to go free?  Are we willing to see 500 to 550,000 of the current 747,000 correctional employees lose their jobs?  Will we fully fund an Extraordinary Welfare and Job Training Administration to help former prisoners and former guards – some of whom may never find jobs?

Or do we prefer paying the prison-industrial complex $63 billion a year so we never have to answer those questions?

About the Author

Jens Soering’s third book, The Convict Christ:  What the Gospel Says About Criminal Justice (Orbis 2006) won First Prize in the Category “Social Concerns” at the 2007 Catholic Press Association Awards.  His fourth book, The Church of the Second Chance:  A Faith-based Approach to Prison Reform (Lantern 2007), has just been released.  See  The Color of Crime and Punishment

[i] Solomon Moore, “Justice Dept. Numbers Show Prison Trends,” New York Times, September 6, 2007, based on the Bureau of Justice Statistics report Prisoners in 2006, released September 5, 2007.

[ii] Roy Walmsley, World Prison Population List, 6th ed. (London: Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate, 2006), available at (International Centre for Prison Studies).

[iii] William J. Sabol, Heather Couture and Paige M. Harrison, Prisoners in 2006 (Washington, D.C.:  Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2007), 4; and Walmsley, World Prison Population List.

[iv] Peter Hardin, “Webb panel looks at toll of incarceration,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, October 5, 2007.

[v] Walmsley, World Prison; U.S. Census Bureau, 2002, as cited in Peter Wagner, The Prison Index (Springfield, MA: Prison Policy Initiative, 2003).

[vi] Chris Suellentrop, “The Right Has a Jailhouse Conversion,” New York Times, December 24, 2006; Hardin, “Webb panel.”

[vii]; and Moore, “Justice Dept.”

[viii] “New Report on Racial Disparities Across the Country,” Justice Matters (, Summer 2007, 9, referencing “Uneven Justice:  State Rates of Incarceration by Race ad Ethnicity,” released by the Sentencing Project in July 2007 (

[ix] (taken directly)

[x] Associated Press, “Sentencing-Guideline Study.”

[xi] Connie Cass, “Prison Population Grew 2.9 Percent in 2003,” Associated Press, May 28, 2004.

[xii] Moore, “Justice Dept.”

[xiii] Richard Morin, “Answer to AIDS Mystery Found Behind Bars,” Washington Post, March 9, 2006.

[xiv] HIV in Prison 2001 (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2004).

[xv] Marina Mendoza/AP, “Imprisoned and infected,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 23, 2007.

[xvi] Ibid.

[xvii] Brent Staples, “Treat the Epidemic Behind Bars Before It Hits the Streets,” New York Times, June 22, 2004.

[xviii] Walmsley, World Population.

[xix] Van Kesteren, J., Mayhew, P., and Nieuwbeerta P., Criminal Victimisation in Seventeen Industrialised Countries: Key-findings from the 2000 International Crime Victim Survey, cited in Peter Wagner, The Prison Index (Springfield, MA: Prison Policy Initiative, 2003), 40.

[xx] Sabol, Couture and Harrison, Prisoners in 2006, Appendix Table 6.

[xxi] Public Safety, Public Spending:  Forecasting America’s Prison Population 2007-2011 (Washington, D.C.:  Pew Charitable Trusts / Public Safety Performance Project, 2007), 5, based on FBI Uniform Crime Report and Bureau of Justice Statistics data.

[xxii] Marc Manner, Race to Incarcerate (New York:  The New Press, 1999), 82-84.

[xxiii] Kevin Johnson, “Study Predicts Rise in Inmate Population,” USA Today, February 14, 2007.

[xxiv] N.C. Aizeman, “Influx of U.S. Inmates Slowing, Census Says,” Washington Post, September 27, 2007.

[xxv] Jim McTeague, “Why Prison Stocks Look Tempting,” Barron’s, October 8, 2007.

[xxvi] Curt Anderson, “Violent Crime Rate for 2003 Holds Steady,” Associated Press, September 13, 2004; “2004 Crime Rate Hovered at Low Levels,” USA Today, September 26, 2005.

[xxvii] Dan Eggen, “Violent Crime, a Sticky Issue for White House, Shows Steeper Rise,” Washington Post, September 25, 2007.

[xxviii] Don Stemen, Reconsidering Incarceration: New Directions for Reducing Crime (New York: Vera Institute of Justice, 2007), 2, 13.

[xxix] James Q. Wilson and Joan Petersilia, eds., Crime (San Francisco:  Institute for Contemporary Studies, 1995), 105.

[xxx] Stephen A. Salzburg, Chairperson and Editor, Justice Kennedy Commission Report, American Bar Association, August 2004, 19–21.

[xxxi] Frank Green, “More Prisons, Less Crime?” Richmond Times-Dispatch, April 25, 2005; see Ryan S. King, Marc Mauer, and Malcolm C. Young, Incarceration and Crime: A Complex Relationship (Washington, D.C.: The Sentencing Project, 2005), citing W. Spelman, “The Limited Importance of Prison Expansion,” in A. Blumstein and J. Wallman, eds., The Crime Drop in America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 97–129.

[xxxii] Kathleen Kingsbury, “The Next Crime Wave,” Time, December 11, 2006.

[xxxiii] Howard N. Snyder, “Not This Time: A Response to the Warnings of the Juvenile Superpredator,” Corrections Today (American Correctional Association), April 2007, 116–117.

[xxxiv] Dan Eggen, “Rise in Violent Crime Has Slowed, With Many Cities Reporting Drops,” Washington Post, November 29, 2007; Kevin Johnson, “Murder down 6.5% in big cities,” USA Today, January 8, 2008.

[xxxv] Robert S. Mueller III, Crime in the United States, 2006 (Washington, D.C.:  Federal Bureau of Investigations, September 24, 2007).

[xxxvi] In 2006, there were 1,417,745 violent crimes – an increase of 27,050 over 2005 – and 9,983,568 nonviolent offenses – a decrease of 182,591 from 2005.  Overall, there were 155,541 fewer crimes in 2006 than in 2005.

[xxxvii] Dan Eggen, “Violent Crime in the U.S. Continues to Surge,” Washington Post, December 19, 2006.

[xxxviii] “Violent Crime Rose in First Half of Year,” USA Today, December 19, 2006.

[xxxix] Kevin Johnson, “Police say crime ‘hot spots’ shift resources,” USA Today, November 5, 2007.

[xl] Kristen A. Hughes, Justice Expenditures and Employment in the United States (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2003).

[xli] Gary Fields, “To Cut Prison Bill, States Tweak Laws, Try Early Release,” Wall Street Journal, December 21, 2005; figure for 2001.

[xlii] Raphael Sperry, Ariel Bierbaum, Juan Calaf, Karen Kearney, and Kathleen Monroe, “Prison Design Boycott: A Challenge to the Professional Business of Incarceration,” Prison Legal News, November 2005, 4, citing American Correctional Association data.

[xliii] Private Adult Correctional Facility Census, 1996 and 2001 editions, quoted in Peter Wagner, The Prison Index (Springfield, MA: Prison Policy Initiative, 2003), 6.

[xliv] Paul von Zielbauer, “Prison Health Services: As Health Care in Jails Goes Private, 10 Days Can Be a Death Sentence,” Prison Legal News, August 2005, 3; reprinted from the New York Times.

[xlv] Jon Swartz, “Inmates vs. Outsourcing,” USA Today, July 8, 2004.

[xlvi] Silja J.A. Talvi, “Inside the American Correctional Association,” Prison Legal News, September 2005, 4; John E. Dannenberg, “NY DOC’s 60% Telephone Call ‘Surcharge’ Violates First and Fourteenth Amendments,” Prison Legal News, March 2006, 11; effective April 1, 2007, New York eliminated the state commission provision of its contract—a decision that does not impact MCI’s share of the profits from overpriced phone calls, of course.

[xlvii] Fox Butterfield, “With Longer Sentences, Cost of Fighting Crime Is Higher,” New York Times, May 3, 2004.

[xlviii] The Guards Own the Gates,” Los Angeles Times, November 24, 2003.

[xlix] Nicholas Confessore, “Spitzer Seeks Commission to Study Prison Closings,” New York Times, February 5, 2007.

[l] Angela E. Pometto, “Prisons in Appalachia,” Arlington Catholic Herald, November 18, 2004.

[li] Clayton Mosher, Gregory Hooks, and Peter Wood, “Don’t Build It Here—The Hype Versus the Reality of Prisons and Local Employment,” Prison Legal News, January 2005, 11–15; see G. Hooks, C. Mosher, T. Rotolo and L. Labao, “The Prison Industry: Carceral Expansion and Employment in U.S. Counties, 1969–1994,” Social Science Quarterly 85 (2004), 37–57.

[lii] Fox Butterfield, “Study Tracks Boom in Prisons and Notes Impact on Counties,” New York Times, April 30, 2004.

[liii] Marvin Mentor, “Pay to Play: Guard Union Spreads the Wealth,” Prison Legal News, March 2005, 5.

[liv] “Buying Power,” Coalition for Prisoners’ Rights Newsletter (PO Box 1911, Santa Fe, NM 87504) 31, no. 9 (September 2006)—based on information from the Institute of Money in State Politics in Helena, MT; and David M. Reutter, “Prison Privatization Launders Taxpayer Dollars into Political Contributions,” Prison Legal News, August 2007, 13.

[lv] Ibid.

[lvi] Sabol, Couture and Harrison, Prisoners in 2006, 5.

[lvii] Reutter, “Prison Privatization.”

[lviii] Pamela Maclean, “Strong Arm of the Law,” San Francisco Bay Guardian, December 4, 2002; cited in Wagner, Prison Index, 36.

[lix] Mentor, “Pay to Play.”

[lx] Karen Olsson, “Ghostwriting the Law,”, September–October 2002.

[lxi] Associated Press, “California Guards’ Union Facing Changes,” New York Times, May 23, 2004; and John Pomfret, “California’s Crisis in Prison System a Threat to Public,” Washington Post, June 11, 2006.

[lxii] “Federal Judge Enforces ‘Valdivia Remedial Plan’ for California Parole Violators,” Prison Legal News, January 2006, 9–10.

[lxiii] Shannon McCaffrey/AP, “Older prisoners bring high price tag,” Virginia Pilot, September 30, 2007.

[lxiv] Etienne Benson, “Rehabilitate or Punish?” Monitor on Psychology (American Psychological Association) 34, no. 7, July–August 2003, 47; see also Anna Bailey, “More Police Means Strain on Corrections System,” The Examiner (Washington, D.C.), April 17, 2006; and Kevin Johnson, “Commission Warns of Harm Isolation Can Do to Prisoners,” USA Today, June 8, 2006; 20% of 2.38 million = 476,000; Pete Earley, “Living with Mental Illness,” USA Today, May 2, 2006.

[lxv] Moore, “Justice Dept.”

[lxvi] Kolodner, “Private Prisons Expect a Boom,” New York Times, July 19, 2006.

[lxvii] “Alabama Supreme Court Sidesteps Merits of Suit Challenging Contracted Prison Labor,” Prison Legal News, June 2006, 40; Laura Magnani and Harmon L. Wray, Beyond Prisons: An Interfaith Paradigm for Our Failed Prison System (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2006), 40.

[lxviii] Matthew T. Clarke, “Colorado Expands Private Prisons While Fining CCA for Understaffing,” Prison Legal News, November 2006, 24.

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