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May 28, 2004

Prison populations and crime rates

The inmate population of U.S. prisons is still growing, and the crime rate is dropping.  Are these two facts somehow related?  Some, including Attorney General John Ashcroft, assert that crime rates are falling because of the growing inmate population -- that is, as more hard-core criminals are put away, the crime rate is bound to fall.  Others, including the vast majority of the 'mainstream' media, don't seem to get this, as is evidenced by this quote from an Associated Press article: "The inmate population continued its rise despite a fall in the crime rate and many states' efforts to reduce some sentences, especially for low-level drug offenders." 

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