Mass Incarceration in the US: Researcher Crunches the Numbers

Vikrant Reddy, senior research fellow at the Charles Koch Institute, is focusing public attention on the extremely high percentage of incarceration in the United States. America imprisons 700 out of every 100,000 citizens.

Vikrant Reddy poses this bold suggestion: instead of throwing everyone in jail, why not hold them accountable by having them “supervised” by the community?

In an exclusive interview with Bold Business, captured at the Impact Prisons 2017 event, Reddy cited the alarming statistics, “The problem is extremely severe. Let me quantify it for you. Canada locks up 114 out of every 100,000 people. Australia, started as a prison colony, will accept 130 out of every 100,000. The United Kingdom locks up 150 out of every 100,000. The United States locks up 700 out of every 100,000. The difference is enormous.”

He cites public safety and human dignity as among the specific reasons why excessive imprisonment in the US should be taken seriously, stressing that at a certain point, incarceration becomes counter-productive.

And then there’s the cost. Reddy explains that in Texas, locking a person up for a single day already costs $50. On the other hand, if that person were placed on probation, it would only cost the state $2.29. He notes that communities are more than capable of monitoring offenders and holding them accountable for their actions.

Accountability is Possible Without Mass Incarceration

“People commit crimes. I don’t want to let people off. I want to make sure that they are held accountable. But that can mean probation.”

“People commit crimes. I don’t want to let people off. I want to make sure that they are held accountable. But that can mean probation. It can mean drug courts. It can mean specialized courts, veterans courts, prostitution courts,” Reddy said, adding that probation will allow offenders to get back on their feet more easily and eventually pay restitution to their victims.

According to Reddy, the United States was doing well in terms of managing its prisons in the 1950s throughout the early 1960s but somehow got away from that model.

“It is true that crime was increasing dramatically and politicians felt that they really needed to respond. They responded by locking more people up. But that pendulum can swing too far. You need to find a way to reel it back in again so I would look at what we have done historically in the United States in better times,” Reddy stressed.

Perhaps the citizens have become paranoid. The instinct is to throw offenders in jail rather than give them a chance to reform within the community. It has resulted in mass incarceration, Impact Prisons 2017, Vikrant Reddy and the Charles Koch Institute are boldly challenging that practice.

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