The Common Good
October 2004

Less Crime, More Time

by Rose Marie Berger, Brian Bolton | October 2004

Less Crime,

Less Crime, More Time

The total population of citizens incarcerated, paroled, or on probation in the United States reached a new high in 2003, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. More than 3 percent of U.S. adults were part of the correctional population sometime during 2003, despite a decade of decreases in violent crime, property crime, and gun-related crime.

The increasing prison population results from "political policies promulgated by politicians who are doing what they think the public wants," Harmon Wray, executive director of the National Association of Sentencing Advocates, told Sojourners. "Unfortunately, the only options the public sees are either highly punitive or just slaps on the wrist. There’s not enough middle ground. Accountability, restitution, treatment—those are what the public really wants when presented with alternatives [to incarceration]."

  • 4.8 million. The total number of people on probation or parole in the United States in 2003; up from 3.8 million in 1995.
  • 2 million. The total number of men and women in all U.S. prisons and jails at mid-year 2003.
  • 130,700. The increase in the total adult correctional population from 2002 to 2003.
  • 4 percent. The average annual increase in jail populations since 1995.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics bulletin (July 2004)

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