Each American Spends $260 Per Year on the Prison System

A new report from The Hamilton Project has found that the United States currently spends $80 billion a year to incarcerate inmates in correctional facilities. That comes out to $260 per American resident each year—$183 more than it did in 1980. Paradoxically, violent crimes have dropped by 45 percent in the last 20 years. From CBS News: “So if fewer crimes are being committed, why are we spending more on prisons? Federal and state policies—such as mandatory sentencing and repeat-offender laws—have actually led to an explosion in the country’s incarceration rate, which is driving up spending.” That means, right now in America there are 710 inmates for every 100,000 residents—an astoundingly high number compared to other countries. The story notes that the “war on drugs” campaign, which led to stricter sentences and an aging prison population also accounted for the rise …

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