United States

There are over 2,000,000 people incarcerated in the US. This country has 5% of the earth’s population but 25% of those incarcerated. At least 2,500 children under the age of eighteen are in prison for life without the possibility of parole. 


Kentucky is seventh in the US for the number of people in prison. Thirteen percent of children in KY have a parent incarcerated compared to the national average of 7%. At this time there are  24,000 inmates in thirteen prisons, one which is privately run. The annual cost per prisoner is $25,594.

Of note, from 1985 to 2015 the overall crime rate declined by 19 percent, but during that same 30-year period the number of prisoners rose by 271 percent!


It’s called Department of Corrections, but is that a misnomer? Can we say there is “correction” when the recidivism rate is 35-40% and by the ninth year as high as 80%?


What is the purpose of locking people in prison for years? Four possible motives for incarceration include:

  1. Retribution and punishment
  2. Incapacitation
  3. Deterrence
  4. Rehabilitation

If #1 how long is long enough? For #2 being locked away is the only answer. Number three indicates that the threat of prison prevents crime, but if that is so why do we have more people in prison than ever before? How much rehabilitation (#4) actually happens in prison? How does it happen?

It is easy to take imprisonment for granted. People commit crimes. People pay. It is not that simple. Each case, judge, jury and parole board is different. There is no “one size fits all” in corrections. 

We will discuss this subject further in the next posts.     

1 of 3 on this topic


“America is the land of the second chance – and when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life.” George W. Bush


The SOURCE of most of this information is a class at Bellarmine University taught by Gaye Holman, Author, “Decades Behind Bars: A Twenty-year Conversation with Men in America’s Prisons.”

Photo and Graphic by Pixabay

9 thoughts on “Corrections

  1. A lot of interesting statistics and some bear closer examination. One young man from Ontario, age around 20, got caught in a drug deal “sting” with two other guys in Michigan and got life for a first offense. There will be a lot of lifers if that’s the case — and I’ve read that there are. Guys doing 25 years for a first-time drug offense while teens. The Canadian govt tried to bring him back to an Ontario prison near his family, but the MI penal system refused.

    Statistics can be manipulated. For example, if there are so many more incarcerated and crime has dropped, you can say that’s because the criminals were finally locked up. or there may be another explanation. As to the US stats as opposed to other countries, other countries execute…or don’t catch. Maybe policing is better in the States..or corruption in many countries is such that criminals can operate in safety.

    Here in Canada we have a different story. Two fellows, stoned, go out and beat an innocent passer-by to death with a baseball bat they took along for that purpose, and they get two years for manslaughter. this does not inspire confidence! On the other hand a young man gets drunk and drives, crashes and the two occupants of the other car are killed. He gets seven years. Judges’ opinions do make a big difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Christine makes very legitimate points. One thing that bothers me with this current situation is that a certain Cabinet Secretary for this Administration owns stock in many for profit prisons and benefits when as many as is possible are sent to prison and the there, longer, the more profitable for her. I call it DEVOStating.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have strong feelings about incarceration. Commit the crime, pay the price. Punishment may not be harsh enough anymore. Our society has gone way too soft on criminals.
    And yes, the punishment should fit the crime. The legal system and it’s members need to be more responsible in their actions and judgements.

    For Maximum Security prisons, whose inmates have committed horrendous crimes, maybe self sufficiency could offset the cost of incarcerations. In this case, inmates actually have to participate in their own upkeep and the running and functioning of the prison itself. This practice used to be much more common.

    There seems to be no deterrent to crime anymore. It’s way too easy to shuffle in and out of the legal system.

    On the other hand, once criminals have served a sentence, I feel that more investment should be made in programs that can rehabilitate and somehow instill a new outlook on life. Some of these people have been born into negative situations which they’ve never been able to rise above….
    poverty, physical and mental abuse, and a host of other negative influences.

    And lastly,
    I think a major part of crime is related to drugs. How we deal with that, I’m not sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sylvia’s comments point out how complicated the whole criminal justice problem is. I think everyone agrees there should be consequences for bad behavior. From there on, the subject gets really convoluted.
    The idea of work for pay is actually one the public makes difficult. My study shows that meaningful work is a strong rehabilitative tool. But the public screams if they find the inmates are holding meaningful jobs- data entry, phone banks, etc. without understanding the extreme security behind those programs. Business owners complain that the lower wages paid in prison industries takes away from their own competing businesses. Too complicated to go into the issue here. The inmates’ money generated through the canteen is already going to support a lot of their programs – recreation, cable TV, higher education, etc.
    Lastly, no criticism here, but in Kentucky, the security levels are based on behavior and perceived danger to other inmates, not the seriousness of their crimes. There may be a young man at Eddyville (maximum security) who robbed stores but keeps getting in fights, whereas at Luckett (medium security) there are men who have killed and tortured their victims but can get along OK in a double-bunked situation.

    Liked by 1 person

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