Some 2.3 million people are in prisons across the United States on any given day, according to a new report by Prison Policy Initiative released Tuesday, which also warned that the number of immigrants behind bars has increased sharply.
The report, titled, “The Whole Pie 2017” found that “99 percent of jail growth over the past 15 years was in the detention of people who are presumed innocent.”
“The United States locks up more people than any other country, at a rate more than five times higher than most other nations,” the group said in a press release about the report.
The report found that in one given year, “people go to jail over 11 million times.” One of the highlights of the report was that one in five people locked up are for drug offenses, while more than one million people are arrested for drug possession every year.
“The numbers in The Whole Pie show that ending mass incarceration will require rethinking not just the war on drugs, but also our society’s response to violent crimes,” the report argued.
One of the shocking findings of the report was that up to 7,200 youth are behind bars whose “most serious offense” is not even a crime.
It found that 6,600 children are locked up for “technical violations” of their probation, and 600 for “status” offenses which are “behaviors that are not law violations for adults, such as running away, truancy, and incorrigibility.”
Meanwhile at least 57,000 people are being held in detention centers and jails for the sole reason of being immigrants, without having committed any crime. Some 16,000 people are being held in immigration detention centers for crossing illegally into the United States, the report said.
The majority of immigrants, 41,000 people, are being held in federal and state prisons without any court proceedings for entering the country illegally and without proper visas. These numbers are expected to significantly increase as a result of the Trump administration crackdown on immigration and repeated vows to lock up and deport millions of undocumented immigrants.