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Monday, September 7, 2009

United States Has Highest Incarceration Rate on Planet Earth

The Wall Street Journal had a front page article this weekend about the tough choices faced by the State of Michigan due to the implosion of the auto industry. Michigan is now forced to shut down entire prisons and release thousands of inmates.

The United States now has five times more people in jail and prison than they had in the 1970's. The graphic above shows the spike in prison populations since the implementation of the Nixon era WAR ON DRUGS.

California decided to get tough on crime and enacted a three strikes law and you spend the rest of your natural life in prison. They now have people arrested for stealing cookies in prison for life! All due to the get tough on crime legislation they enacted.

Canyon County now spends about $84/day for each inmate in the Canyon County lock up. Voter are going to get the opportunity to vote up or down a jail bond to build a new jail facility. Initially the facility will be about 650 beds. Ultimately it will be built out at 2,000 beds!

The bond measure to build the new jail will cost homeowners and business people $32.94 per $100,000 on net assessed valuation. Operational costs will rise as the population rises.

How much can we afford as a society to keep nonviolent people behind bars? We hope there will be a lot of debate and exchange of ideas and issues as we move toward the bond election for a new jail.


  1. Nationally the average number of people locked up is about 7 in 1000.

    The ACLU says that number is way too high and that if most of these nonviolent folks were released most communities should realistically be closer to 4 in 1000 incarcated behind bars.

    So the hardcore right says 7 in 1000.
    The extreme liberal left says cut that number almost in half and go with 4 in 1000.

    So if we go with 4 in 1000 lets see here......

    185000 people in Canyon County divided by 1000 = 185 times 4 equals 740. So according to the Liberal ACLU left this community should have a 740 bed jail. It currently has a 360 bed jail. So Paul tell me, are the judges just too stupid to figure out who needs to be in jail? Tell me how this community can afford to waste one single bed on someone who doesnt need to be there. Seems to me you dont want ANYONE locked up in jail. Again you seem to have all the answers here. How big of a jail does this community need? Lets hear your solution. It is obvious the current jail is inadequate. When the jail was built this community was 80000 people. It is now 185000 people. In case you haven't noticed we have kind of grown as a community. What has not grown with it is the jail. We keep slapping band aids on it and expect miracles to happen.

    Nice Dinner at a local restaurant for me and my wife----$20.00. Tickets for 2 at Edwards in Nampa for a movie-----$12.00. Medium popcorn and 2 medium sodas------$10.00. Total bill $42.00

    Cost of new jail on my annual property taxes ---- $42.00.

    Conclusion on the cost of this jail ---- WORTH EVERY PENNY.

  2. The above post has some faulty math. The average stay in the Canyon County Jail is 19 days. They have 300 beds in jail and 223 in the work release. 300 X 365 days in a year divide 19 days average stay = space to lock up 5713 people over the course of one year. Or space for 3.1% of the entire county over the course of the year not including space in the work release, SILD, day reporting, and other alternative sentencing.

    Point of this is we can not build ourselves out of the incarceration problem locally nor in the USA without looking at things differently.

    We have 5 times more people in jails and prisons now than we had in 1970. We do not have 5 times the people in this country today. Nor do I feel any safer today than I did in 1970.

    The problem is locking too many non-violent people up and the disaster called the war on drugs.

  3. Where is the rebuttal I sent you 3 days ago or does the guy who agrees with you get the last word? I see we are becoming a bit one sided and afraid of debate again.


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