The research wing of the U.S. Congress is warning that three decades of “historically unprecedented” build-up in the number of prisoners incarcerated in the United States have led to a level of overcrowding that is now “taking a toll on the infrastructure” of the federal prison system.
Over the past 30 years, according to a new report by the
Congressional Research Service (CRS), the federal prison population has
jumped from 25,000 to 219,000 inmates, an increase of nearly 790
percent. Swollen by such figures, for years the United States has
incarcerated far more people than any other country, today imprisoning
some 716 people out of every 100,000. (Although CRS reports are not made
public, a copy can be found here.)
“This is one of the major human rights problems within the United
States, as many of the people caught up in the criminal justice system
are low income, racial and ethnic minorities, often forgotten by
society,” Maria McFarland, deputy director for the U.S. program at Human
Rights Watch, told IPS.