How did America’s addiction to prisons and mass incarceration get its start and how did it spread from state to state? Of the many attempts to answer this question, none make as much sense as the explanation found in a new book titled, “A Plague of Prisons: The Epidemiology of Mass Incarceration in America.” According to public health expert and Columbia University professor, Ernest Drucker, the rapid growth and spread of American prisons follows the classic life cycle of an infectious bacterial or viral epidemic.
From 1970 to 2009, the total number of federal prisoners increased from 21,094 to 208,118. State prison inmates went from 177,737 to 1.4 million. When the 767,620 people in local jails are added in, America’s grand total for 2009 was nearly 2.4 million people behind bars — a world record. As for Texas, from 1970 to 2009, state inmates increased twelve-fold, from 14,331 to more than 171,000.
(Source: azspot, via harmreduction)