A United States Prison Index

The United States has recently passed the ignominious milestone of incarcerating more than one per cent of its citizens.

1. Estimated number of people in US prisons and jails, as of April, 2008: 2,312,800

2. Percent of the world’s incarcerated population that is in the United States: 22%

3. Percent of African-American men, aged 25-29, in prison: 11.7%

4. Kennedy’s margin of victory in the popular vote over Nixon, 1960: 118,550. Had modern rates of disenfranchisement of convicted felons applied in 1960, Nixon’s margin of victory over Kennedy: 106,261

5. Percent of drug offenders in New York state prisons who are African-American or Latino: 93.8%

6. Percent of New York state population who are African-American or Latino: 29.9%

7. Annual cost in Florida of executions over and above the cost of incarceration for life: $51 million

8. Percent of police chiefs who say that reducing drug abuse should be the primary focus in reducing violent crime: 31%. Percent who say expanding the death penalty should be: 1%

9. Estimated percent of people in the criminal justice system who don’t get the substance abuse treatment they need: 83%

10. Number of children with a parent in state or federal prison: 1.5 million

11. Percent of men in state prisons report that their children are living with their mothers: 90%. Percent incarcerated women report that their children are living with their fathers: 28%

12. Percent of federal prisoners held at least 500 miles from their last residence: 43%

13. Number of US military veterans denied the vote because of a felony conviction: 585,355

14. Likelihood that black males will serve prison time at some point in their lives: 32%. Likelihood that white males will: 6%

15. Number of people in California serving life sentences for petty theft (under $400), due to California’s “three strikes” law: 354

16. Maximum UNICOR (Federal Prison Industries) wage, per hour: $1.15

17. Number of prisons where UNICOR makes office furniture: 18

18. Average hourly earnings of a non-incarcerated US worker making office furniture: $13.04

19. Percent of high school seniors in 1975 who reported using cocaine: 1.9%. Percent of high school seniors in 2005 who did: 2.5%

20. Number of Henry George Institute instructors who have been released from prison in the past two years: 2. Number who are still in: 2

Sources: 1-4,16-18, www.prisonpolicy.org; 5, NYS Dept. of Correctional services; 6, US Census; 7,8, www.deathpenaltyinfo.org; 9. National Center for Addiction & Substance Abuse at Columbia Univ.; 10,11,12, www.correctionalassociation.org; 13,14, www.sentencingproject.org; 15. www.libertyhill.org; 19. New York Times Almanac, 2008, quoted by M. A. Jamal; 20, HGI.

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