Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

A Matter of Fact

The U.S. adult population increased 19 percent from 1980-95 (from 163.5 million to 194 million), while the U.S. adult prison population increased 237 percent during the same period (from 319,598 to 1,078,545).

According to Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) figures, "drug offenders" constituted 26 percent of all state and federal prisoners in 1993, whereas this segment accounted for only 8 percent of all prisoners in 1980.

According to Robert Gangi, Executive Director of New York's Correctional Association, more than 21,500 drug offenders were locked up in New York state prisons under the state's tough mandatory sentencing laws.

The 1996 payroll for Ohio state workers topped $2.35 billion. Salaries and overtime helped at least 109 state workers earn more than $100,000 in 1996. All but three of the state's 42 highest-paid employees were either psychiatrists or physicians working in Ohio prisons. While doctors dominated the highest-paying positions, prison guards accounted for the largest share of overtime.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol reports that between l99l and 1996, 184 visitors and 13 prison employees were arrested for attempting to smuggle drugs into prisons. The amounts smuggled by visitors are usually very small. By contrast, one Ohio state prison guard was caught bringing in a pound of marijuana into Warren Correctional Institute hidden in a false bottom of a duffel bag.

In 1970, prisoners filed 2,030 §1983 lawsuits and 9,088 habeas corpus suits. The total state/federal prison population in 1970 stood at 196,429. Combining both types of suits, there was one suit filed for every 17 prisoners. By 1994, the number of prisoner §1983 suits grew to 39,065, while only 13,359 habesa corpus actions were filed. The 1994 state/federal prison population stood at 1,093,738. Combining both types of suits, there was 1 suit filed for every 21 prisoners in 1994. In per-captia terms, therefore, prisoners filed lawsuits at a 23.5 percent higher rate in 1970 than in 1994.

In 1996, U.S. workers filed more than 23,000 job discrimination lawsuits in federal courts, more than double the 10,771 that were filed in 1992. Also filed in 1996 were 17,954 work-related lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and 15,342 sexual harassment complaints.

As of December, 1996, the state of California imprisoned 10,248 women, more than the total prison population of each of 23 other states.

According to California Department of Corrections officials, about 1,500 of the state's 143,000 prisoners are physically disabled; 345 use wheelchairs; another 650 need walkers, canes or artificial legs; 141 are deaf or severely hard of hearing; and 219 are blind or seriously vision-impaired.

According to the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), annual operating costs for state and federal prisons combined grew from $3.1 billion in FY 1980 to about $17.7 billion in FY 1994. The corresponding growth rate in terms of inflation-adjusted dollars was 9.1 percent annually.

Federal and state combined prison operating and capital expenses totaled about $163.1 billion for fiscal years 1980-94.

The National Council on Crime and Delinquency estimated that $10.6 to $15.1 billion could be needed to construct additional state prisons to accommodate projected prison population growth from 1995 to 2000 (an additional $4 billion is projected in BOP capital expansion costs) and that $21.9 billion would be needed by the end of the decade to operate state prisons.

Since 1986, slightly more than 70 percent of the $4.4 million paid to the District of Columbia by the U.S. Department of Justice for "crime-victim assistance" programs has gone to pay salaries of city employees who administer the program.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login