Sen. Tom Cotton: U.S. has “under-incarceration problem”

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) slammed attempts in Congress to pass criminal justice reforms that would do away with some mandatory minimum sentences.

“Take a look at the facts. First, the claim that too many criminals are being jailed, that there is over-incarceration, ignores an unfortunate fact: for the vast majority of crimes, a perpetrator is never identified or arrested, let alone prosecuted, convicted, and jailed,” Tom Cotton said during a speech at The Hudson Institute, according to his prepared remarks. “Law enforcement is able to arrest or identify a likely perpetrator for only 19 percent of property crimes and 47 percent of violent crimes. If anything, we have an under-incarceration problem.

Here are some important facts about the prison system in the United States.

  1. At the start of 2015, there was 2.2 million Americans in prison.
  2. The U.S. has the highest prison population in the world and has more citizens incarcerated per-capita than any other country, about 724 per 100, 000.
  3. Thanks to the three strikes policy, over 3, 000 Americans are serving life without parole for non-violent crimes.
  4. The prison industry is hugely profitable. Private prisons generate $70 billion a year.
  5. Many products are made by prisoners who earn as little as two-cents an hour, including 90 percent of house hold paints, office furniture, all military uniforms, police gear and license plates.
  6. Prisons are very costly for state governments and the federal government. California spends $64, 000 a year per prisoner and at the same time, they spend less than $10, 000 a year per college student.


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