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I co-founded the Prison Policy Initiative to put the problem of mass incarceration — and the perverse incentives that fuel it — on the national agenda. Over the last 17 years, our campaigns have protected our democracy from the prison system and protected the poorest families in this country from the predatory prison telephone industry. Our reports untangle the statistics and recruit new allies.

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Section I: Crime & Punishment in the U.S.

Public perception & the crime rate

  • Percent of people in 1996 who thought there was more crime in the United States than the year prior29: 71%
  • Percent of people in 1996 who thought there was more crime in their local area than the year prior30: 46%
  • Percent change in arrest rate for index crimes (serious crimes tracked by the FBI) from 1995 to 199631: -5.1%
  • Percent of people in 2000 who thought there was more crime in the United States than the year prior32: 47%
  • Percent of people in 2000 who thought there was more crime in their local area than the year prior33: 34%
  • Percent change in arrest rate for index crimes from 1999 to 200034: -6.6%

This page is an excerpt from The Prison Index: Taking the Pulse of the Crime Control Industry (April 2003) by Peter Wagner, published by the Western Prison Project and the Prison Policy Initiative.

Footnotes

29 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 2.36.

30 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 2.38.

31 Calculation, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 4.2.

32 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 2.36.

33 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 2.38.

34 Calculation, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2001, Table 4.2.



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