"RoundHouse"Joliet Prison, Illinois
In 1989, the US prison and jail population reached 1 million inmates for the first time in this nation’s history (Schiraldi 2003). By 2001, the number of inmates topped 2 million, plus an additional 3.6 million U.S. citizens had already served time in prison. The severity of this increase is amazing given the fact it took the US over 200 years to reach its first 1 million in prison and jail inmate populations.
Further disaggregation of prison demographics highlights racialized patterns of incarceration. For example, June 2002 statistics for males aged 25-29 in prison and jail include the following data: White males ages 25-29 equaled 1,615 per 100,000; Latino males ages 25-29 equaled 4,339 per 100,000; Black males ages 25-29 equaled 12, 877 per 100,000. This amounts to the imprisonment of 12.9% of Black men in their late 20s (World Prison Population list, 5th Ed.).
Although African American women make up roughly 13% of California's female population, they constitute 33.6% of the California female prison population. And although white females are around 48% of the female population of California, they make up only 37% of the states female prison population. Hispanic females constitute 22.3% of the female prison population. (Dept. of Finance, CA Statistical Abstract & CDC Monthly Ethnicity Report)
In 1993 South African apartheid incarceration rates for Black adult men equaled 851 per 100,000. In 2002, in the US, incarcerated Black adult men totaled 7,150 per 100,000 (ibid).
In order to facilitate this increase, from 1987-1998, state governments amplified their spending on prison construction and maintenance by 30 percent. During this same time, states also decreased spending by 1.2% for elementary-secondary education and 18.2% for higher education (Ambriosio and Schiraldi 1997). Other social welfare programs were also dramatically reduced at the cost of incareration spending. For example, in 1993, states spent more on Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) than on corrections. However, by 1996, expenditures on corrections grew by almost $8 billion nationwide while AFDC was cut by almost $2 billion. Consequently, states began sending 42% more of their resources for imprisonment than on income support for families living in poverty (Winter 1998).
When we examine trends of resource allocation to particular states, the information becomes even more dismal. From 1984 to 1997, for instance, California constructed 21 prisons and only 1 state university. During this time, the California Department of Corrections added 25,864 employees while there was a workforce reduction in higher education of 8,082.38 (Ambriosio and Schiraldi 1997).
Since mandatory sentencing laws went into effect in the mid-1980s, the California female prison population has skyrocketed. At the end of 1986, women in California's prisons totaled 3,564. Today the population now numbers 10,987óan increase of 305% in twelve years. (California Department of Correction [CDC] data)
As of June 30, 1996, 77.6% of women in California prisons were imprisoned for nonviolent offenses, the majority of which were drug-related. (Criminal Justice Consortium; CDC)