Research Points to Little Link ...

Research Points to Little Link Between High Incarceration Rates and Falling Crime

South Carolina is one of a handful of southern states that has sought to cut crime rates by locking up more people.

As crime drops across the United States, academics are studying the trend and asking if it has had an effect on offending.

A recent article in The Intercept looked at the results of the tough approach to offending which was led by Louisiana - the "world's prison capital" with an incarceration rate that is "nearly five times Iran's, 13 times China's and 20 times Germany's.

The state locks up one in 75 adults, which is double the national rate and the highest in the world," according to the Brennan Center's Lauren-Brooke Eisen. The center carried out a recent study which tried to explain what has caused the large drop in crime experienced in the United States over the past 20 years — and to what extent the fall in offending is attributable to the expansion of prisons. Louisiana's state prison population has doubled in the last 20 years as crime has fallen.

However, the 139 page report did not list the increase in incarceration rates as a significant factor in the fall in crime.

The Brennan report rejected the argument that a bigger prison population takes the worst people off the streets and makes society much safer. It said while mass incarceration does have a limited role in lower crime rates, other factors are much more significant. The Brennan Center discovered that, "police officers, some data-driven policing techniques, changes in income, decreased alcohol consumption, and an aging population played a role in reducing crime."

Eisen said she believes that mass incarceration in Louisiana is delivering negligible returns. Louisiana's prison sentences are among the harshest in the country and there is a large percentage of inmates who serve life without parole. The report stated Louisiana, as well as the rest of the South, has a long tradition of being "tough on crime." The states with the highest rates of incarceration are all below the Maxon-Dixon line. Louisiana is trailed by Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

According to statistics provided by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the violent crime rate in South Carolina been higher in our state than in the rest of the United States for every one of the past 35 years. The statewide rate was 150 percent of the national rate in 2010. Due to the fact that the incarceration rate is so high in South Carolina, it makes sense to hire an experienced Columbia criminal defense attorney to shorten the odds of ending up in jail. Call Masella Law at 803.938.4952.

Categories: Criminal Defense

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