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February 19, 2009

Why We Matter

Headline_1196028827 These stats were passed on to me by a colleague, and gleaned from a program which aired on the National Geographic channel called Lockdown: Prison Nation. They are a simple yet sobering reminder of how important the work of Prison Fellowship and Justice Fellowship is and how broken our system has become.

The U.S. has five percent of the world’s population, it has 25% of the world’s inmates.

California operates the third largest penal system in the world, right after China and the United States.

80,000 inmates are kept in isolation nationwide. - A rising suicide rate is linked to the increasing use of solitary confinement. Nearly 70 percent of inmate suicides are in isolation.

25% of all state prison beds are occupied by the mentally ill. Tops in Los Angeles county jail, followed by New York’s Rikers Island.

700,000 inmates are released from prison each year - more than two-thirds of them end up back behind bars within three years.

Assaults on inmates have risen 65% in the past decade.

(Image © EPA/Ulises Rodriguez)

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Gene A

Thank you for this, Catherine. I recognize & appreciate the important work that PF/JF does under difficult circumstances. Would you be able to briefly outline the 'response' to this situation from the 'authorities', i.e. fed & state govt, the judicial and law enforcement communities? Just a lay person wondering if those whose views count are acknowledging and addressing or turning a blind eye...? Thank you.

Jason Taylor

What are the substitutes? Some criminals have to be locked up. But what of those who don't? Fines are not a complete answer. They will do for embezzlers and such. But there is the unpleasant fact that the type of people who become criminals are also the type of people who are imprudent with their money which makes this option less practical.

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