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A Matter of Fact

Welcome to this new feature of PLN. Often we run across amazing facts, figures, quotes, or statistics, but don't have the time, energy, or space to develop a full-length article. So, in the same vein as "News in Brief," this column will be consist solely of bite-sized morsels of information. If you like it (or hate it) write and let us know.

The state prison system in Pennsylvania has 2,000 "lifers." There is no parole for lifers in PA, so a lifer is six times as likely to die in prison than to be released.

Between 1930-75 the U.S. imprisonment rate remained between 100-120 per 100,000/population (1930: 129,453 1975: 240,593). In 1993 it was 519 per 100,000. That same year Russia had 558 prisoners per 100,000; South Africa (while still under apartheid) had 368; Poland, 160; Canada, 116; Mexico, 97; England and Wales, 93; France, 84; Germany, 80; and Japan, 36.
A black teenager is one-fifth as likely to die from drug abuse as a white middle-aged adult, but is ten times more likely to be arrested for drugs and over twenty times as likely to be imprisoned.

Average state spending on corrections (combined) in 1984: $6 billion. In 1994: $20 billion.

New York state prison population in 1974: 15,000. In 1994: 67,000.

Five million people in the U.S. are under the supervision of the criminal justice system, 1.5 million in prisons or jails, the rest on probation or parole. This number may soon rival the 6 million enrolled in the nation's higher education system.

At the beginning of 1995, 39 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico were under court orders to correct overcrowding and/or unconstitutional conditions.

In 1994, 61 percent of the prisoners in the federal prison system were convicted of a drug crime. It is estimated that 75 percent of the federal prison growth from 1985 to 1997 will be related solely to changes in drug sentencing policies.

A national survey of 1,003 Americans in February 1995, found that 53 percent of Americans believe that drug use is more of a public health problem than a criminal justice problem and could better be handled through prevention and treatment.

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