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Texas Prisons:  Out of Control 

The use of prison as an element of drug policy has limited benefits and huge costs. Excessive use of prisons for minor drug offenses places a huge burden on the criminal justice system and severely damages its ability to deal with all other forms of non - drug related crime. 

* Prisons do not deter drug abuse. [1] 

* Illegal drug possession and use directly harms no one and is unlikely to do so. [2] 

* Prison may increase the chances of future criminal behavior. [1] [3] [4] 

* Prison sentences reflect severely racist outcomes. [4] [5] 

* Prison has major negative consequences for children, spouses and the offenders themselves, all of which cost society dearly. [4] [6] 

* The quantity of drugs involved is usually ridiculously low. [4] [7] 

Prisons should be used to protect us from people we're justifiably afraid of, particularly those who do violence to others such as murderers, rapists and child abusers. 

Over the past 30 years or so the United States has obliterated that traditional approach by filling prisons mostly with nonviolent offenders. Texas is the worst example. [8] In 2001, Texas had 1 in 10 of those incarcerated in prison or jail in the United States, the largest number of offenders under criminal justice jurisdiction in the nation. 

Texas has no particularly different crime and drug problems than states that imprison at less than a third of the Texas rate.

A detailed look at Texas prisons: 

See: Texas Tough?


"TEXAS TOUGH Three Years Later

by Vincent Schiraldi & Jason Ziedenberg, April 23rd, 2003  


Spending on corrections in Texas rose from $600 million in 1985 to $2.9 billion in 2002. 

Between 1980 and 2000, corrections employment in Texas increased by 1100%, 5 times the rate of higher education (217%), and 12 times the rate of public welfare (91%). 

One out of five new prisoners added to the nation's prison system during the 1990s was added in Texas. 

Between 1983 and 2001, the number of prison and jail inmates in Texas quadrupled from 50,500 to 203,800. 

Since 1970, Texas' prison population has gone up more than 12.5 times, from 12,000 to 151,000. 

There are more people under criminal justice control in Texas (740,905) than live in the City of Austin (656,562).

For more than a century prior to 1970, the United States imprisoned people at a rate between 1 and 2 per 1,000. Now the Land Of the Free has become the the world's largest prison state. The US imprisons at about 8 times the rate in Europe. With about 5% of the world's population, the US has about 25% of the world's prisoners. 

For more information : 

See: Prison 

also see: 


 Distorted Priorities: Drug Offenders in State Prisons, by Ryan S. King and Marc Mauer of The Sentencing Project


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