So I was reading a news story about Ohio wanting to remove 1,000 prisoners from the DOC by next year. Ohio has about 50,000 people in prison. Of course, accompanying this article was the usual language out “mass incarceration.” Well, I looked at Ohio’s prison data from 1922 until today. What did I find? At no time did Ohio’s prison population break .005% number of inmates/population of the state. Whoooo......wait a minute? Where is this “mass” of prisoners? Moreover, when I examined Ohio’s prison population, almost 60% are there for VIOLENT CRIMES, about 20% are recidivistic property offenders, and about 16% are drug offenders (almost all for distribution). Sorry, it seems that Ohio’s prison population isn’t tipping the scales at “mass” levels just yet and if anything, given my experiences on the streets this year, we might be wise to INCREASE the number of people behind bars.
Today I received this piece from Heather MacDonald. Heather has a sharp mind and a wickedly clear pen. She cuts though a lot of the hysteria surrounding “mass incarceration” and provides us with a caution against moving too quickly to arbitrarily reduce our prison populations.
Please, give this article your time and attention. Even if you don’t agree with it, I think it serves as an interesting and largely fact based counterpoint to the fanciful thinking that currently surrounds this subject.
John Paul Wright and Matt DeLisi
Professors of Crime and Criminology