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Manhattan Institute

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Issues 2016: Does America Incarcerate Too Many Nonviolent Criminals?

issue brief

Issues 2016: Does America Incarcerate Too Many Nonviolent Criminals?

July 6, 2016
Urban PolicyCrime

Abstract

It is not easy to land in an American prison. Most convicted felons never reach prison, and those who do are typically repeat offenders guilty of the most serious violent and property crimes.

Key Findings

  • 47 percent of incarcerated Americans are in prison for violent crimes, compared with only 20 percent for drug-related crimes.
  • Only 3 percent of violent victimizations and property crimes lead to imprisonment; even among convicted felons, less than half receive a prison term, and most of those are out in less than three years.
  • California’s experiment with deincarceration has reversed years of declining crime rates in a matter of months.

READ FULL REPORT

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Return to the Manhattan Institute's Issues 2016 series

Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute and contributing editor at City Journal.

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