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Mass incarceration isn’t always the issue. Uneven incarceration is.

2 8 16
23.10.2018

“Mass incarceration” update: It peaked during the years 2007-2008 and has been quietly but consistently falling ever since.

The U.S. prison and jail population that equaled 760 out of every 100,000 people in each of those two years had declined by the end of 2016 to 670 per 100,000, according to the Justice Department.

Does that 11.8 percent drop represent meaningful progress? Well, compared with what? If the standard is the low-violent-crime, low-incarceration norm enjoyed by the United States’ peer nations in Western Europe and Japan, the progress here looks modest at best. Germany, for example, had an incarceration rate of 76 per 100,000 in 2016, and a murder rate of 1.18 per 100,000, according to the United Nations.

Yet the United States is clearly headed in the right direction: We have managed to halt and reverse ever-growing incarceration rates, including, crucially, for black men, whose numbers in prison have fallen by about 98,000 since 2009, according to the Pew Research Center. The overall incarceration rate is now at a 20-year low, Pew reports.

Meanwhile, violent crime, despite a troubling uptick in 2015 and 2016, has not reverted to the out-of-control rates of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

According to Federal Bureau of Investigation data released last month, the 2017 U.S. murder rate was 5.4 per 100,000, roughly quintuple Germany’s, but still about half what it was in........

© Washington Post