More People in Prison Despite Drop in Crime

From Times Wire Reports

The U.S. prison population grew again in 2002 despite a declining crime rate, costing the federal government and states an estimated $40 billion a year at a time of rampant budget shortfalls.

The inmate population in 2002 of more than 2.1 million represented a 2.6% increase over 2001, a report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics said. Preliminary FBI statistics showed a 0.2% drop in overall crime during the same span.

Experts say mandatory sentences, especially for nonviolent drug offenders, are a major reason inmate populations have risen for 30 years.