The Common Good
May-June 2000

A Punishing Decade

by Ryan Beiler | May-June 2000

The U.S. prison population passed the two million mark in February, provoking vigils
and protests in more than 40 U.S. cities.

The U.S. prison population passed the two million mark in February, provoking vigils and protests in more than 40 U.S. cities. According to the Washington, D.C.-based Justice Policy Institute (JPI), the United States now has the world’s largest incarcerated population and the highest incarceration rate. With just 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States has a quarter of its prisoners.

According to a recent JPI report, the majority of U.S. inmates are nonviolent offenders and disproportionately African-American, with one in three black men between the ages of 20 and 29 under some form of criminal justice control (in prison, jail, parole, or probation) in 1995. For the full report, visit www.cjcj.org/punishingdecade.

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