Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Pew Trusts: Expect expanding prison populations

From the 'tell us something we don't know' department, the Pew Charitable Trusts has released a study predicting an increase in prison populations over the next five years. (Here's the full report.)

That's not news to Grits readers, nor likely will you be surprised to learn I think it's unnecessary and maybe counterproductive. Pew anticipates that level of incarceration expansion would require $27.5 billion in new spending over the next five years.

As I've argued repeatedly, another huge incarceration driver in the next few years, if current trends hold, will be immigration detention in Texas. Dave Maass and Kari Lydersen from the SA Current both have stories stories from the recent media tour of the facility in Williamson County where immigrant families including children are being held indefinitely pending deportation proceedings.

UPDATE: Naturally, Texas leads the way. According to the Austin Statesman:
four states — Florida, Texas, California and Arizona — will account for about 45 percent of the total prison population increase, the study found.

James Austin, a co-author of the report, placed the onus for stemming the growth on probation and parole systems. "If we can get some kind of improvement in that area, these numbers would change radically," Austin said.

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