Quick Facts

 

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The Fiscal Cost:

The Human Cost:

  • Compared to the 1 out of 125 American children that had a parent behind bars 25 years ago, today, 1 out of every 28 American children have a parent behind bars. “Two-thirds of these children’s parents were incarcerated for nonviolent offenses.” (Pew: Collateral Costs: Incarceration’s Effect on Economic Mobility.”)
  • 7% of children- or 5 million children- in the United States have had a parent incarcerated at some point during their lifetime. This percentage varies by state, but in Kentucky, more than 1 in 10 (13%) of children have had a parent incarcerated in their lifetime. (Annie E. Casey Foundation)
  • A recent survey done by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that:
    • 65% of families with a family member in prison or jail could not meet basic needs
    • And when fathers are incarcerated, family income can drop by an average of 22 percent.

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  • 77% of Americans support eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders. (Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey)
  • 84% of Americans believe that some of the money that we are spending on locking up low-risk, non-violent inmates should be shifted to strengthening community corrections programs like probation and parole. (Pew Center on the States)
  • When asked about drug policy, 67% of Americans thought the government should focus more on providing treatment, while only 26% thought the government should focus more on prosecuting drug users (7% didn’t know). (Pew Center on the States)
  • Voters think, on average, that about a fifth of prisoners could be released without posing a threat to public safety. (Pew Center on the States)
  • 62% strongly favor sending fewer low-risk, non-violent offenders to prison in order to keep violent criminals in prison for their full sentence. (Pew Center on the States)
  • 59% strongly favor sending fewer low-risk, non-violent offenders to prison and re-investing in alternatives to incarceration. (Pew Center on the States)
  • 88% agreed that “We have too many low-risk, nonviolent offenders in prison. We need alternatives to incarceration that cost less and save our expensive prison space for violent and career criminals.” (Pew Center on the States)
  • 87% agreed that “Prisons are a government program, and just like any other government program they need to be put to the cost-benefit test to make sure taxpayers are getting the best bang for their buck.” (Pew Center on the States)

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