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Prison-Building Boom

September 17, 1999 • Volume 9, Issue 35
Should more money be spent on rehabilitation?
By David Masci

Introduction

The number of Americans behind bars has grown to nearly 2 million, requiring federal and state governments to build an unprecedented number of prisons. Conservatives argue that while regrettable, the prison-building boom has helped to bring down the nation's high crime rate. But liberals and others say the United States is building prison cells when it should be combating crime by spending more money on education and drug treatment. In addition, they argue, other tough-on-crime measures, such as mandatory minimum sentences and truth-in-sentencing laws, are simply keeping minor felons in jail too long and at great expense to the taxpayers. But proponents of tough sentencing laws counter that they are needed as an antidote to lenient judges.

The medium-security jail facility in Castaic, Calif., houses some of the 20,000 inmates in the severely overcrowded Los Angeles County jail system. (Photo Credit: Damian Dovarganes, Associated Press)
The medium-security jail facility in Castaic, Calif., houses some of the 20,000 inmates in the severely overcrowded Los Angeles County jail system. (Photo Credit: Damian Dovarganes, Associated Press)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Prisons
Jan. 10, 2014  Sentencing Reform
Sep. 14, 2012  Solitary Confinement
Mar. 11, 2011  Downsizing Prisons
Dec. 04, 2009  Prisoner Reentry
Apr. 06, 2007  Prison Reform
Jan. 05, 2007  Prison Health Care
Sep. 17, 1999  Prison-Building Boom
Feb. 04, 1994  Prison Overcrowding
Oct. 20, 1989  Crime and Punishment: a Tenuous Link
Aug. 04, 1989  Can Prisons Rehabilitate Criminals?
Aug. 07, 1987  Prison Crowding
Nov. 25, 1983  Prison Overcrowding
Feb. 26, 1982  Religious Groups and Prison Reform
Jun. 18, 1976  Criminal Release System
Mar. 12, 1976  Reappraisal of Prison Policy
Oct. 20, 1971  Racial Tensions in Prisons
Oct. 13, 1965  Rehabilitation of Prisoners
Oct. 09, 1957  Prisons and Parole
May 02, 1952  Penal Reform
Jan. 30, 1937  The Future of Prison Industry
May 08, 1930  Prison Conditions and Penal Reform
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Drug Abuse
Sentencing and Corrections
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