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Imprisonable Offenses

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Chapter Summary

The United States currently imprisons more than two million of its citizens, a four-fold increase since 1980. Other countries have likewise seen substantial increases in their prison populations, though none of them comes close to matching the rate at which the US imprisons its citizens. It appears that about half of the people serving time in US jails and prisons have been convicted of offenses involving violence directed at other persons. Many, upwards of 20 percent, are imprisoned for drug possession and trafficking offenses. Others are imprisoned for property crimes that did not involve assaults on persons or threats made against them. And still others are imprisoned because they in some way violated the provisions of their probation or parole. In other words, many of the people currently imprisoned have neither acted nor threatened to act in ways that substantially injured the lives and safety of fellow citizens.

Keywords: drug possession; property crimes; trafficking offenses; United States; violence



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