Prison population statistics

Consider the following graphs.

Figure 1 presents the rate of incarceration in U.S. prisons since 1960. Figures 2 and 3 illustrate violent and property crime rates in the U.S. during the same period of time.

Do you think the five-fold increase in the incarceration rate since 1970 is driven by the increase in the number of crimes?

If not, what other factors could have contributed to the rapid increase in the prison population?

Feel free to supplement your argument by other crime/prison/sentencing statistics you can find.



[Figure 1: Rate of Incarceration in the U.S. (per 100,000 population)] Rate of Incarceration in the U.S. * Source: National Prisoner Statistics, Bureau of Justice Statistics.



[Figure 2: Violent Crime Rates in the U.S. (per 100,000 population)] Violent Crime Rates in the U.S. * Note: Violent crime rates are based on the UCR Part I index crimes data, and represent the sum of the rates of homicide, forcible rape, aggravated assault, and robbery.



[Figure 3: Property Crime Rates in the U.S. (per 100,000 population)] Property Crime Rates in the U.S. * Note: Property crime rates are based on the UCR Part I index crimes data, and represent the sum of the rates of larceny, burglary, and motor vehicle theft.

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Economics of Crime

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