Cause and effect 

In this article on the rising prison population, "The Sentencing Project" and "The Justice Policy Institute" have this to say:

The Sentencing Project said the continued rise in prisoners despite falling crime rates raises questions about the country's imprisonment system. The group said the incarceration rate -- 724 per 100,000 -- is 25 percent higher than that of any other nation.

"Policymakers would be wise to reconsider the wisdom of current sentencing and drug policies, both to avoid expensive incarceration costs and to invest in more productive prevention and treatment approaches to crime," Marc Mauer, the group's executive director, said in a statement.

Another group, the Justice Policy Institute in Washington, said the statistics show little relationship between prison population growth and the crime rate, which has been falling in recent years.

"The nation does not have to lock more people up to have safer communities," said Jason Ziedenberg, the institute's executive director.

Regarding the war on drugs -- I wouldn't mind loosening the laws on marijuana possession, but doing the same for crack, heroin and other significantly more dangerous drugs would be disastrous. I suspect that weed users make up a rather slight fraction of people incarcerated for using substances, though I could be wrong.

Regarding the relation between prison population and crime -- I can't think of a more effective and efficient way to reduce crime than by taking criminals off the streets. (Other than redefining crime, that is.) Messrs. Mauer and Ziedenberg, please enlighten me.


I can think of a more effective way to prevent crime.


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