More Prisoners Does Not Mean Less Crime
It's not that simple. A 2005 report by The Sentencing Project noted that while increased incarceration rates were accompanied by a decrease in crime between 1991 and 1998, crime rates had increased between 1984 and 1991, a period in which the rate of incarceration was even higher. The director of the Pew Center on the States recently wrote, "Rigorous studies show that increased imprisonment can claim credit for only 25 percent of the nation's crime drop over the past 15 years. The other 75 percent comes from a wide variety of factors, inside and outside the criminal justice system." Those factors include support for improved policing and community crime prevention programs—federal support for which was cut by the Bush administration. We already lock up a larger percentage of our population than any other country in the world. We need to invest more in the programs and techniques that we know prevent crime and lead to healthier communities.Source
The Sentencing Project. "Incarceration and Crime: A Complex Relationship," 2005.
Susan K. Uhran, "Our Prisons Are No Bargain." The Washington Post, June 26, 2008.
"Prison Population Around the Globe." The New York Times, April 22, 2008.