Thursday, July 23, 1998
* More than 5.5 million Americans are incarcerated, on probation or on parole--2.8 percent of all adult residents in the United States--our highest rate in history.
* The overall crime rate in the US has fallen for the seventh straight year. Violent crime rates have dropped every year since 1994, while property crime is on a 22-year decline.
* Incarceration rates in this country, now 645 per 100,000 citizens, have more than doubled since 1985, when we locked up 313 per 100,000 citizens. Our incarceration rate is now among the highest in the world. Canada's rate is about 120 per 100,000.
* Americans have said crime/violence is the "most important problem facing America today?" in all of the three-per-year Gallup Polls conducted since 1993, except in January of 96, when the budget deficit was the top vote-getter.
* In the last legislative session, 38 bills increasing prison sentences were signed into law in California, while no laws reducing sentences were enacted.
* More than half of all jail and prison inmates nationwide are there for drug violations.
* California prisons now house about 158,000 inmates, 190 percent of the system's intended capacity, and employ more than 45,000 people. Current prisons will run out of space sometime in the year 2000.
* Half of California prison admissions are for parole violations, the revocation conditions for which have gotten more strict in the last two years, with 60 percent of parolees now being returned to prison.
* The average prison sentence for felons in California is 57.1 months. Four years ago, it was 47.3 months.
--S. T. Jones
Sources for statistics: US Department of Justice, California Department of Corrections, Gallup Inc.