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A common solution offered in political rhetoric about crime is “law and order”– that putting more people in jail equals less crime. A new study says it is not true.

The Vera Institute of Justice recently put out a study entitled “The Prison Paradox: More Incarceration Will Not Make Us Safer.” The report summarizes research on the connection between incarceration and crime rates since 2000. A major finding was “the increased use of incarceration accounted for nearly zero percent of the overall reduction in crime” since the new millennium. In fact, over the last two decades, 19 states have successfully decreased their prison population and lowered their crime rates.

Studies like this debunk outdated, yet pervasive attitudes and beliefs on criminal justice in American culture and politics. The International Centre for Prison Studies estimates that the U.S. prison population is well over 2 million (the majority consisting of non-violent offenders).

A commonly shared statistic among justice system reformers is the U.S. has around 5 percent of the world’s population, but about 25 percent of the world’s prison population. To put in a more local context, if America’s prison population was a city, it would be about the size of Houston, Texas.

SOURCE: Vera Institute

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