The prison population is growing at an alarming rate, and has reached a population density, unparalleled in the history of the United States of America. On January 20, 2003, the number of people imprisoned within the Federal Bureau of prisons reached an all time high of 165,005. Currently, over 2.2 million people are confined in state and federal prisons. One in thirty-two United States Citizens are incarcerated or on probation or parole. Conservative estimates place the costs of incarcerating an individual at $30,000 per year. Prisons are being constructed at an unprecedented rate. Inherent in the proportion of the prison juggernaut are a myriad of systemic problems (Department of Justice, 2003).
The prison incarceration experience in the United States is a deepening phenomenon in the current era. More than 6.5 million persons (3.1 percent of the adult population of the United States) were under correctional supervision in the United States at mid-year 2001 ù the most recent available data. Of this total number, 1,962,220 were incarcerated (1,330,980 in prison and 631,240 in jail), 732,351 were on parole, and 3,932,751 were on probation (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2002b, p. 1).
The number of persons incarcerated in prison in 2001 was up 1.1 percent from 2000 and was up 3.6 percent from 1995. In contrast, the parole population increased only 1.3 percent from 1995 to 2001 (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2002b, p. 1).
At the state prison level, incarcerated populations ranged from 100 percent of rated capacity to 115 percent of rated prison capacity. At the federal prison level, the inmate population represented 31 percent of the rated capacity of all federal prisons in the United States (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2002a, p. 1).
From the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s, the American prison population increased by 84 percent (Bureau of Criminal Justice Statistics, 1997, p. D-4). Per 100 thousand-population, t...