- uploaded: Aug 8, 2011
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"Prison-industrial complex" (PIC) is a term used to attribute the rapid expansion of the US inmate population to the political influence of private prison companies and businesses that supply goods and services to government prison agencies. The term is analogous to the military-industrial complex that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of in his famous 1961 farewell address. Such groups include corporations that contract prison labor, construction companies, surveillance technology vendors, lawyers, and lobby groups that represent them. Activists have described the prison industrial complex as perpetuating a belief that imprisonment is a quick fix to underlying social problems such as homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy.
The promotion of prison building as a job creator and the use of inmate labor are also cited as elements of the prison industrial complex. The term often implies a network of actors who are motivated by making profit rather than solely by punishing or rehabilitating criminals or reducing crime rates. Proponents of this view believe that the desire for monetary gain has led to the growth of the prison industry and the number of incarcerated individuals. These views are often shared by people who fear or condemn excessive use of power by government, particularly when related to law enforcement and military affairs.
Incarceration in the United States is one of the main forms of punishment and/or rehabilitation for the commission of felony and other offenses. The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world. At year-end 2009 it was 743 adults incarcerated per 100,000 population.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) 2,292,133 adults were incarcerated in U.S. federal and state prisons, and county jails at year-end 2009 â€” about 1% of adults in the U.S. resident population. Additionally, 4,933,667 adults at year-end 2009 were on probation or on parole. In total, 7,225,800 adults were under correctional supervision (probation, parole, jail, or prison) in 2009 â€” about 3.1% of adults in the U.S. resident population." In addition, there were 86,927 juveniles in juvenile detention in 2007.
In 2006, $68,747,203,000 was spent on corrections.
In 2005 it cost an average of $23,876 dollars per state prisoner. State prison spending varied widely, from $45,000 a year in Rhode Island to $13,000 in Louisiana.
In California in 2009 it cost an average of $47,102 a year to incarcerate an inmate in state prison. From 2001 to 2009, the average annual cost increased by about $19,500 in California.
In 2001 among facilities operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, it cost $22,632 per inmate, or $62.01 per day.
Housing the approximately 500,000 people in jail in the USA awaiting trial who cannot afford bail costs $9 billion a year. Most jail inmates are petty, nonviolent offenders. Twenty years ago most nonviolent defendants were released on their own recognizance (trusted to show up at trial). Now most are given bail, and most pay a bail bondsman to afford it. 62% of local jail inmates are awaiting trial.
To ease jail overcrowding over 10 counties every year consider building new jails. As an example Lubbock County, Texas has decided to build a $110 million megajail to ease jail overcrowding. Jail costs an average of $60 a day nationally. In Broward County, Florida supervised pretrial release costs about $7 a day per person while jail costs $115 a day. The jail system costs a quarter of every county tax dollar in Broward County, and is the single largest expense to the county taxpayer.
Bondsmen have lobbied to cut back local pretrial programs from Texas to California, pushed for legislation in four states limiting pretrial's resources, and lobbied Congress so that they won't have to pay the bond if the defendant commits a new crime.
Behind them, the bondsmen have powerful special interest group and millions of dollars. Pretrial release agencies have a smattering of public employees and the remnants of their once-thriving programs.
â€”National Public Radio, January 22, 2010.
In 2007 states spent an estimated 7 percent of their budget on corrections.
As of 2007 the cost of medical care for inmates was growing by 10 percent annually.
High rates of incarceration may be due to sentence length for crimes such as theft and drug possession. Repeat offenders may not be properly handled due to a lack of focus on rehabilitation. Shorter sentences may even diminish the criminal culture by possibly reducing re-arrest rates for first-time convicts. The U.S. Congress has ordered that federal judges make imprisonment decisions "recognizing that imprisonment is not an appropriate means of promoting correction and rehabilitation."
Critics have lambasted the United States for incarcerating a large number of non-violent and victimless offenders; half of all persons incarcerated under state jurisdiction are for non-violent offenses, and 20% are incarcerated for drug offenses (in State prisons, Federal prison percentages are higher). "Human Rights Watch believes the extraordinary rate of incarceration in the United States wreaks havoc on individuals, families and communities, and saps the strength of the nation as a whole." The population of inmates housed in prisons and jails in the United States exceeds 2 million, with the per capita incarceration population higher than that officially reported by any other country. Criminal justice policy in the United States has also been criticized for a number of other reasons.
Reporting at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (August 3, 2008), Becky Pettit, associate professor of sociology from the University of Washington and Bryan Sykes, a UW post-doctoral researcher, revealed that the mammoth increase in the United Statesâ€™ prison population since the 1970s is having profound demographic consequences that affect 1 in 50 Americans. Drawing data from a variety of sources that looked at prison and general populations, the researchers found that the boom in prison population is hiding lowered rates of fertility and increased rates of involuntary migration to rural areas and morbidity that is marked by a greater exposure to and risk of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV or AIDS.
 Penal system organization
The penal system of the United States is operated at both the federal, state, and territorial levels. Each system exists in a separate but related historical and legal context from the others. Federal prisoners have been convicted of federal crimes, state prisoners, of crimes against that state.
Further information: List of U.S. federal prisons
The Federal Bureau of Prisons of the United States Department of Justice is responsible for the administration of the federal prison system. The federal government has jurisdiction over both people and all other governments in the United States