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During 2010, U.S. residents age 12 or older experienced an estimated 18.7 million violent and property crime victimizations. These criminal victimizations in 2010 included an estimated 3.8 million violent victimizations, 1.4 million serious violent victimizations, 14.8 million property victimizations, and 138,000 personal thefts (Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey).

During 2010, 92,865 persons over the age of 65 were victims of violent crime. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2010)

Nationally, it is estimated that the tangible costs (physical and mental health costs, loss of income, property damage) of victimization amount to more than $17 billion, and when intangible costs (such as reduced quality of life and pain and suffering) are taken into effect, this number climbs to more than $330 billion annually. (American Journal of Public Health, 2008)

During a one-year period, 60.6 percent of children and youth from birth to 17 years of age experienced at least one direct or indirect (as a witness) victimization.   (David Finkelhor et al, “Violence, Abuse, and Crime Exposure in a National Sample of Children and Youth,” Pediatrics 124, no. 5 (2009)
Incarceration Trends and Costs
The United States, home of 5 percent of the world’s population, holds 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. (NewYork Times, 2008)

The United States currently incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than any other country in the world. In 2008, over 2.3 million Americans were in prison or jail and another 5.1 million were on probation or parole. (Center for Economic and Policy Research, 2010 and Sabol, West, & Cooper, 2009)

Florida has the nations 3rd largest prison system. (Collins Center/Florida Tax Watch Special Report/April 2011)

Between 2000 and 2008, the number of annual admissions to state prisons increased by 18%. (Sabol, West, & Cooper, 2009)

The total number of inmates in Florida’s prisons grew from around 8800 in 1970 to more than 102,000 in 2010. (Collins Center/Florida Tax Watch Special Report/April 2011)

In 2008, federal, state, and local governments spent about $75 billion on corrections, the large majority of which was spent on incarceration. (Center for Economic and Policy Research, June 2010)

Spending on corrections is the second fastest growing state budget category behind Medicaid–and one out every 100 adults is now behind bars. (The Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project)

The Florida Department of Corrections budget in Fiscal Year (FY) 1980-81 was 169 million annually. By FY 2010-11, it had jumped to nearly 2.4 billion annually. Furthermore, the returns from a public safety perspective have diminished over the past decade, even as costs have accelerated. (Collins Center/Florida Tax Watch Special Report/April 2011)

In 2008, Florida spent $20,108 per year for each offender in state prison. (National Council on Crime and Delinquency, Special Report, 2010)

With an unprecedented number of people now in prison and a serious and long recession continuing to constrain Florida’s fiscal resources, Florida must look for ways to ensure public safety at lower cost. (Collins Center/Florida Tax Watch Special Report/April 2011)
Families of the Incarcerated
Approximately 1 in 28 children in the United States is impacted by the incarceration of a parent. (Pew Charitable Trusts 2010)

In 1999 an estimated 721,500 State and Federal prisoners were parents to 1,498,800 children under 18 years of age. 22% were under 5 years old. (Bureau of Justice Statistics)

Families with loved ones imprisoned experience a higher incidence of poverty and homelessness. (Community Action Network 2009)

When someone goes to prison, many families find that, at a time when help is most needed, people seem to withdraw from them. There is often a sense of shame and a fear of being labeled.  (Children of Prisoners Library, Facts and Issues, CPL 101)

There are many unintended consequences of the incarceration of parents on children. These consequences may include problems with separation, caregiving, schooling, anti-social behavior during childhood, educational failure, precocious sexuality, premature departures from home, early childbearing and marriage, and idleness and joblessness during adolescence and early adulthood. (The Next Generation: Children of Prisoners by John Hagan, Ph.D.  – University of NC, Chapel Hill)

As a result of emotional issues such as shame and loss, one in ten children of incarcerated parents will be incarcerated later in life. (Community Action Network 2009)
Recidivism Rates
*An offender is considered to have recidivated if, after release from prison, he/she commits a new crime or violates the term of his/her parole within 3 years and is re-incarcerated.

More than 40 percent of ex-offenders commit crimes within three years of their release and wind up back behind bars, despite billions in taxpayer dollars spent on prison systems that are supposed to help rehabilitate them. (Associated Press/The Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project, 2011)

“For all the money spent on corrections today, there hasn’t been a clear and convincing return for public safety. The national prisoner return rates are likely to remain steady unless states more deeply embrace programs that better prepare offenders for re-entry… We know so much more today than we did 30 years ago when prisons became the weapon of choice in the fight against crime.” –   Adam Gelb, director of the Public Safety Performance Project
A Florida Study
  • Since 88% of inmates (over 89,000) in Florida’s prisons today will one day be released back into our communities, their success or failure comes at a cost to public order and public safety.
  • The overall three-year recidivism rate based on all released inmates from 2001 to 2008 is 33.1%. Florida’s recidivism rate may be lower than another state due to differences in release mechanisms, such as very few paroles.
  • A one-percentage-point drop in the recidivism rate results in approximately 400 fewer inmates being admitted over a three-year period at a cost of $20,000 per year per inmate; this is a cost avoidance of approximately $8,000,000. Even a relatively small decrease in recidivism rates that persists over multiple years can result in millions of taxpayer dollars to be used for other priorities.
  • Inmates who complete education programs while in prison have lower recidivism rates than inmates who do not complete programs.

(2009 Florida Prison Recidivism Study, Florida Department of Corrections)

*See the Restorative Justice Program tab to learn more about the Recidivism Studies associated with Bridges To Life and how they address the issues summarized on this page.