toomanyhelicopters wrote:that doesn't sound right at all. to think that the US population can increase steadily without building more prisons seems kinda silly. that would only make sense if as the population increases, crime (or at least convictions) decrease(s) at a proportional rate. i don't expect that reality to be manifest. though it could, i would be kinda surprised. from the stats that faiz linked to, it looks like the prison population growth rate exceeds the general population's growth rate. i guess it could be blamed on the building of prisons, but that seems pretty iffy to me.
It doesn't seem silly at all, unless you really believe that we "need" to incarcerate people for marijuana (or other drug) possession. The prison growth rate has exceeded the general population's growth rate for awhile. Since the 70s? I'm not sure since when. But at a certain point, this kind of thing simply cannot continue. Not because people will become enlightened about the way we handle drug offenders, but because prisons are an absolute drag on state economies. You pour a ton of money into them, and usually very little of that goes toward rehabilitation and career training, so you get nothing in return. I think Wisconsin is paying a few million a year right now to run a Supermax prison that is barely occupied.
The boom in prison building had more to do with politics and privatization than with societal "need" for more prisons.