Wed, Mar 29, 2017 | updated 04:44 PM IST

U.S. prisons increase, even after crimes decline: Study

Updated: Aug 22, 2016 11:42 IST

Washington D.C., Aug. 22 (ANI): A new study suggests that the U.S. prison population continued to rise even after the crime rate began declining in the mid-1990s because judges were faced with more repeat offenders.

Using data from Minnesota, an Ohio State University study found that the U.S. criminal justice system felt the reverberations from the increase in violent crime and imprisonment that occurred from the 1960s to the early 1990s.

"The issue is that the average offender who appears before a judge for sentencing today has a much more extensive criminal record than they did in the past," said author Ryan King.

King found that the average offender in Minnesota in 1981 had one prior felony. That increased to two prior felonies in 1991 and 2.5 prior felonies in 2013.

"It is much harder for judges to not give prison sentences to repeat offenders, so we have more convicted people going to prison," he added.

In fact, the study found that 15 percent of convicted offenders received a prison sentence in 1981, which increased to 20 percent in 1995, and reached nearly 30 percent in 2013.

King said that it is important to try to replicate these results in other states. But he believes the findings would be similar in most states, because judges across the country emphasize prior records when sentencing offenders.

The data needed for a study like this is not available for a national sample. So King used 33 years of data that was held by the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission. This included case-level information on each of the approximately 355,000 felony convictions in the state between 1981 and 2013.

This data included the criminal history of the offender, the severity of the crime, the sentencing outcome and several demographic variables.

King found that in 1981, fewer than 40 percent of sentenced offenders had criminal records, but almost 60 percent did in 2001.

"Criminal activity can decrease, but the criminal record only goes up. Judges are dealing with more repeat offenders now," he said.

It's not that judges are treating repeat offenders more harshly now than in the past. In fact, once he controlled for criminal record over time, King found that judges appeared to be getting more lenient, not harsher.

Minnesota has guidelines for judges to consult when they are deciding on prison sentences for specific crimes and circumstances. Sentences that went below the guidelines increased from 18 percent to 23 percent from 2001 to 2013. Sentences that went above the guidelines decreased by about 2 percent in that same time period.

"Judges' hands are tied, to some extent. It is hard to show leniency and maintain legitimacy in the public eye when you're dealing with a repeat offender, and judges are seeing more of them than they have in the past," he said.

If the United States wants to reduce the number of people in our prisons, King said these results suggest we need a new approach.

"Instead of focusing mainly on first-time offenders, we need to come up with new ways of dealing with offenders who have just one prior conviction," he said, adding, "If we could find ways to keep them out of prison that would have a large impact."

Regardless of what else is done, the number of people in prison should decline if crime rates stay where they are, he said, "But it is going to be a slow process. Our prison populations are going to go down much slower than they went up."

The study was presented at 2016 American Sociological Association Annual Meeting. (ANI)

New Delhi [India], Mar. 29 (ANI): DLF Emporio's Design Awards, in their fifth year, honored promising young names in fashion with a glittering awards ceremony.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 29 (ANI): For a longer life, eat higher proportion of carbohydrates - grains, pulses, vegetables, sweet potato - and about 100 grams of protein in middle-age daily to cut the chances of heart disease, cancer and other diseases in old age, suggests a study.

Full Story >>

London [UK], Mar. 29 (ANI): Ladies, do not hesitate to put on your sexy, body hugging clothes to office any more.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 29 (ANI): A team of Canadian researchers has found that teenagers, who begin smoking pot as early as 15 or younger, may suffer long-term cognitive impairment, memory loss, physical illnesses and respiratory diseases.

Full Story >>

Drinking tea may prevent you from diabetes

Updated: Mar 29, 2017 12:11 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 29 (ANI): After understanding the health benefits of a cup of tea, a study finds that drinking tea can prevent diabetes.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 29 (ANI): A new research suggests that parents who play Pokemon Go with their kids report a number of side benefits such as including increased exercise, more time spent outdoors and opportunities for family bonding.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Mar. 29 (ANI): PyotrIlyich Tchaikovsky's classical ballet 'Swan Lake', one of classical ballet's most beloved pieces, is set to come alive on the Indian stage as NavrasaDuende, a leading production house, announces to collaborate with Moscow-based Royal Russian Ballet and enthral the Indian audience.

Full Story >>

Philadelphia [US], Mar. 28 (ANI): Mural Arts Philadelphia has created thousands of murals over its more than 30-year history, and each one has a unique story, connecting communities through public art. In 2017, Mural Arts has added new opportunities to hear some of those stories first-hand on several tours that visit a wide swath of neighborhoods across the City of Philadelphia.

Full Story >>

London [UK], Mar. 28 (ANI): While finding a perfect partner seems like a tough job to many, the fact is, the effort that needs to be put in retaining that partner can be a painstaking process.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Mar. 28 (ANI): The 2017 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival lineup is now official, and this year's two-weekend extravaganza at the Empire Polo Club in Indio is sure to be one for the ages, with Radiohead, Lady Gaga and Kendrick Lamar headlining the performances between April 14 and April 23.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Mar. 28 (ANI): In an emphatic show of courage and hope, survivors of acid attack victims recently took to the ramp at a unique fashion show at the India Showcase Week, demolishing stigma and redefining the concept of beauty.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Mar. 28 (ANI): From getting your child ready for school to sorting the daily chores- mornings are super hectic for women, especially the working ones.

Full Story >>

This summer, enjoy sweat-free workout

Updated: Mar 28, 2017 12:41 IST

New Delhi [India], Mar. 28 (ANI): As summer draws close, Reebok has yet again come up with an exciting range of its ActivChill apparel for a more sweat-free workout!

Full Story >>

New Delhi, Mar.28 (ANI): Cuemath, the premier program for 'math excellence' for students in KG to grade 8 organized a prestigious one day event to honour its wide network of Cuemath Teachers in Delhi recently.

Full Story >>

London [UK], Mar. 28 (ANI): With progress in technology, people's view towards things change, of course on a positive note.

Full Story >>

London [UK], Mar. 28 (ANI): From our very young age, we're told cheating is wrong and we should all be faithful to our partners.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 28 (ANI): If you have a particular tree nut allergy, then generally you are being asked to avoid every kind of nuts.

Full Story >>

London [UK], Mar. 28 (ANI): Does your boss nag and expect a lot from you? Here's a solution to keep up to their expectations- take a power nap in the afternoon!

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Mar. 27 (ANI): From neighborhood boutique hotels to luxury hotels that are five-star, five diamond retreats; it's easy to fall in love with Beverly Hills.

Full Story >>