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A Matter of Fact

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) collected nearly $550 million in assets from civil forfeiture from "criminals" (many of whom were not convicted of criminal offenses) in 1994, and shared almost $235 million of this booty with state and local law enforcement agencies.

In 1994, the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, housed in a windowless chamber within the DOJ, approved 576 "national security" wiretaps; that same year DOJ prosecutors obtained 554 wiretaps for criminal investigations. In 1995 the number of "national security" wiretaps jumped to 697, and this year it could exceed 800 - compared to 340 wiretaps authorized in the last year of the Bush administration.

Since Clinton took office the FBI's budget has increased by 53 percent and the DEA's has jumped 33 percent. Both agencies are slated for large increases in the 1997 budget, and over the next two years (1997-98) the FBI plans to hire some 2,000 new agents nationwide.

Between 1979 and 1990, state government spending on prison construction increased 612 percent (adjusted for inflation). Between 1982 and 1992, state governments built 455 new prisons.

Between 1984 and 1994, California's colleges and universities cut 8,000 jobs. Meanwhile the California Department of Corrections (CDC) hired 26,000 employees to guard 112,000 new prisoners.

In 1995, 544 prison marriages took place in New York state prisons, which holds about 68,500 persons. Extended family visits (AKA trailer visits), known as the "Family Reunification Program" (FRP) in NY, are offered at 15 of the state's 69 prisons. The most recent study in 1992 showed that the recidivism rate for participants of the FRP was 19.6 percent, while the rate for the overall prison population was 41.1 percent.

On December 31, 1995, one in every 167 U.S. residents was incarcerated in a prison or jail, which is 600 per every 100,000 of the U.S. population.

In 1995, Texas had the highest incarceration rate of all states at 635 prisoners (serving sentences of 1-year or more) per 100,000 population; followed by Louisiana (568 per 100,000); Oklahoma (552) and South Carolina (515). The states with the lowest rates in 1995 were North Dakota (85), Minnesota (105) and Maine (111).

In 1995, one-third of all state prisoners were caged in just three states: California (135,646), Texas (127,766) and New York (68,484). Seventeen states, each with fewer than 5,000 prisoners, together held only four percent of all state prisoners.

In 1976, 95 New York state prisoners died in custody, compared with 525 prisoners in 1995. Of the 1995 total, 58 percent (306) died of AIDS.

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