The news that more than 1 in 100 adults in our country are behind bars shocked many Americans, but it shouldn't have come as a surprise.
The U.S. incarceration rate has been marching toward this milestone for three decades, a result of policy choices that put more offenders in prison and keep them there longer. Harsher sentencing laws, more restrictive parole policies and the practice of locking up people who have violated the rules of their probation or parole have been driving up the inmate population since the early 1980s.
What is remarkable, and has been highlighted alongside the incarceration figures in a recent report from the Pew Center on the States, is that our states, Kansas and Texas, and others are finding effective ways to fight crime and punish criminals without breaking the bank on prisons.
Read the full article Cutting the Prison Rate Safely on the Washington Post's Web site.
Read the Pew Center on the States report, One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008.