KUSA - A new report by the Pew Center on the States' Public Safety Performance Project finds that the prison population in this country has crossed a sobering threshold, including here in Colorado.
The report shows more than 1 in 100 adults in America are behind bars–and details what that is costing state taxpayers. Last year Colorado taxpayers footed a bill of $599 million to incarcerate 23 thousand people–a slight increase from last year still making them the 22nd highest number in the country.
Pew's study, One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008, details state and regional prison growth rates. It identifies how corrections spending compares to other state investments, key reasons behind the cost increases, and what some states are doing to limit growth and costs while maintaining public safety.
The report points out that prison growth and higher incarceration rates do not mirror a parallel increase in crime or a corresponding surge in the population at large.
Rather, it flows principally from a wave of policy choices that are sending more lawbreakers to prison and, through popular "three-strikes" measures and other sentencing enhancements, imposing longer prison stays on inmates.