Monday, April 25th, 2005

New Prison Stats: Nearly 1000 New Individuals Incarcerated Every Week

From a press release by the Justice Policy Institute:

According to data to be released by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) this Sunday, the number of individuals incarcerated in jails and prisons grew by 48,452 between midyear 2003 to 2004. Driven largely by growing federal and state prison populations, and huge increases in jail populations during the past 4 years, BJS reports the incarcerated population grew by 932 people each week.

Despite crime being in decline for over a decade, these numbers show a persistent rise in prison population, and push the US’s rate of incarceration to a startling 726 per 100,000-maintaining the US status as the world’s leading incarcerator (*England-142, *China-118, *France-91, *Japan-58, *Nigeria-31—*Incarceration rates per 100,000 citizens).

“Unless we promote alternatives to prison, the nation will continue to lead the world in imprisonment,” says Jason Ziedenberg, executive director of the Justice Policy Institute. “While the numbers of incarcerated people continue to rise, some legislators are realizing that by removing the barriers to housing and jobs that formerly incarcerated individuals face when re-entering their communities, we can improve public safety, cut corrections costs, and rebuild communities.”

Prisoners and Jail Inmates at Mid-Year 2004 shows that between mid-year 2003 and 2004, the jail population grew by 3.3%, the state prison population by 1.3%, and the federal prison population by 6.3%. The increase in the federal population is unnerving to some since Congress is currently considering HR 1528, legislation that could drastically increase the federal prison population even more.

+ The last minute of this video is one of the most shocking videos I’ve ever seen. This 5-year old kindergartener was handcuffed and arrested for misbehaving. It’s a tragic reminder of the anti-rehabilitative attitude towards youth of color that drives the politics of containment.

posted by @ 9:20 am | 18 Comments

18 Responses to “New Prison Stats: Nearly 1000 New Individuals Incarcerated Every Week”

  1. Hashim says:

    I can’t believe they handcuffed the girl. She’s so small.

    I know they were just trying to scare her, but it reveals the attitude these people in charge have towards these children.

  2. ronnie brown says:

    as a father and as one who has been working in special education (high school, middle school) for the past 21 years, i ask what attitude should one have in dealing with an aggressively disobedient child??…when you’ve had your fill of children with no semblance of home trainin’ because of neglectful parents who are more interested in dressin’ their kids in matchin’ short sets than stressing the importance of discipline in the school room, you might reconsider the use of handcuffs!

  3. Jeff says:

    peace ronnie, i’m hearing you with respect to the grade levels you’re dealing with on the regular. but we’re talking a 5 year old here. the video here, ironically, was a training video–meant to show teachers what might have been done differently. i don’t know enough about proper protocols to judge the first 4 minutes but that last minute, it’s pretty clear what might have been done differently. what’s your take?

  4. Tracey says:

    The parent had been called and was on the way. The school principal could not wait? Where was the school nurse or counselor? The ONLY alternative was to call the police? It took three police officers to subdue a five year old child? They turned a baby girl into a mini-thug criminal. People should be outraged, but this child is clearly the wrong shade. If this was a white child, believe me that prinicipal would be on leave and fighting for her job! That was child abuse plain and simple!

  5. ronnie brown says:

    She shouldn’t have been allowed to trash the classroom. The parent should have been called and the child put on the phone…if that didn’t work she should be escorted by two adults into a empty carpeted room with one adult inside and the other adult outside…door closed, hopefully with a window…let the child tantrum until she is physically exahausted.

    For me, the real child abuse is allowing a child to grow up with no defined boundries of behavior. a child’s natural self-centeredness that’s allowed to run free will be a trouble to themselves, the parents that brought them into this world and eventually, the society-at-large.

  6. ronnie brown says:

    and by the way, according to BET News, the parent was a one hour drive away…

  7. Anonymous says:

    I agree with everything ronnie brown said. Unless the child had a mental problem, then they should have handcuffed the little girl. You saw her reaction to being restrained. She needs to learn that you cannot break rules and expect not to be punished. From the police officer’s comment this is not the first time something like that had happened. As adults we are not allowed to go into a supervisor’s office and trash it, or start hitting people (unless you work for the Source). Indeed, she is only 5 years old, but obviously she is getting away with this behavior at home. If she wasn’t she would not think she could go to school and do this. It is so sad that it has gotten to this point.

  8. Anonymous says:

    “Unless the child had a mental problem…”

    Um, gee… I wonder… does this girl have a mental problem?

    I too have worked in special education classes/environments with kids just like this one here. I have restrained kids, locked kids in isolation units, worked with juvenile sex offenders, etc, etc.

    The reason why the police were called in this situation is that this school is not equipped to handle such children. If the school or district had a fully functioning (and thus funded) special education program, the police would not need to be called. There would be a special school or class, specifically outfitted and trained for girls like this.

    I have worked in facilities that specialized in handling students such as this one. They are not happy, carefree places. But they, at least, provide a staff that understands the needs of the students.

    Please note, a very large portion of the incarcerated population is mentall ill, abused, or drug addicted. Our society has chosen to deal with these HEALTH issues as CRIMINAL problems.

    A five year old girl, who is either mentally challenged or is abused/neglected cannot, cannot be expected to behave like other children. It is simply not realistic to expect this girl to heed the orders of this woman.

    Children need discipline. But discipline without nurturing is basically just abuse. Kids who are disciplined without caring and respect tend to be either fearful and or abusive people themselves.


  9. ronnie brown says:

    just to be clear, loving discipline and nurturing go hand in hand…and furthermore, this extreme behavior is not to be laid at the feet of a “special ed” student…this behavior is common among ALL children of whatever background. When a child’s innate selfishness is allowed to blossom without restraint and consequences, you have a tiger by the tail.

  10. Jeff says:

    Hey yall, I’m a parent too and I’m feeling what folks are saying on all sides of the question. I was maybe too angry to really say what I needed to say yesterday.

    First, I have to give it up to Ronnie and all the other teachers that have to deal with this on a daily. You’re being asked to step in where the ones who are most responsible often will not, and you’re the reason shit isn’t worse off than it could be.

    Here’s I think what I reacted to most deeply–it’s the idea that we should turn a misbehaving 5 year-old over to the police to handle. It moves out of the realm of personal interaction and even community norms into the realm of public policy and the state.

    Should society be passing legislation to lock up pre-schoolers for drawing on a desk? Should mayors get on the stump calling for the arrest of toddlers who put spaghetti on their head?

    Yes, it takes a gotdam village, and no, some of these kids don’t get it all at home. But turning the child over to the cops is giving up, it is *abandoning* the child. Anyone who’s heard me talk about my book knows how I feel about *that*…

  11. ronnie brown says:

    When parents (and by extension, “the village”) abdicate our responsibility to our children, we leave the door open for others to advocate for the state to fill in the gap…That’s why the Terri Shaivo (excuse my spelling)is so significant. You don’t want the state to have the power of life or death…or to raise your kids…we are on a slippery slope.

  12. Anonymous says:

    A very large percentage of special ed kids are in foster care or have an absentee parent (usually the father). Thus, many of these kids are literally being raised by the village.


  13. ronnie brown says:

    I choose to differ with you slightly. Many children are in group homes, foster care…many more absent fathers; but there are PLENTY of two-parent homes (working class to rich) who have kids who are out of control…and i’m not talkin’ special ed!!!…i’m speaking of “regular” high school/junior high populations where discipline has broken down completely. There is no village as a backstop!!…Didn’t you read about the 13 year-old Palmdale,Ca boy who killed a 15 year-old kid with a baseball bat because he was teased about losing a Pony League BASEBALL GAME????!!!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Ronnie… I agree. Discipline issues are not limited to special education. But my experience in Portland Public schools was that most kids with major disciplinary problems were placed in special ed “behavioral” classes (or simply dropped out of school). This varies dramatically between school districts.

    I’m not sure if you are aware, but here are some Los Angeles graduation rates from the LA Times…

    “In the Los Angeles Unified School District, the situation was even worse, with just 39% of Latinos and 47% of African Americans graduating, compared with 67% of whites and 77% of Asians.”

    What this shows is that students are being neglected BOTH institutionally AND by their families. I’m not placing blame. This is simply the situation we face.

    ronnie… I respect your desire to see parents take responsibility for their children. But to me, this attitude doesn’t seem realistic.

    What method do you suggest for reforming these negligent parents?

  15. Anonymous says:


  16. ronnie brown says:

    Eric, my good brother, if parents taking primary responsibility for the welfare their children is considered in any way unrealistic…then the rapid decline of Western Civiliation is on the horizion…

  17. Anonymous says:

    If we are in decline, was there was a decade in our history that was better than the current one?

    It seems America has always been a tenuous mix of noble and savage.

  18. Anonymous says:

    or maybe “tentative” is what i meant. er, well maybe not that either.

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