A new report released Thursday documents America as the world's #1 incarcerator. For the first time in U.S. history, fully one of every 100 of its citizens are serving time behind bars. The report not only gives the startling statistic, but urges states to slash their corrections spending by jailing fewer low-risk offenders.
Kansas and Texas were cited as aggressively acting to slow the prison population explosion in their states. Susan Urahn of the Pew Center on the States says, "we're seeing more states being creative because of tight budgets. They want to be tough on crime. They also want to be a law-and-order state. But they also want to save money, and be effective."
The survey says Kansas is making greater use of community supervision for low-risk offenders and employing sanctions other than reimprisonment for offenders who only technically commit violations of their parole and probation rules.
The 50 states spent $49 billion on corrections last year. Vermont, Michigan, Oregon and Connecticut now spend more on corrections than on higher education, according to the Pew survey.