Tags: US State Facts | Voting Rights | incarceration rates | Missouri

Rates of Incarceration in Missouri

By    |   Tuesday, 01 Dec 2015 04:05 PM

The incarceration rate in Missouri is among the highest in the country. According to data from the National Institute of Corrections, 31,537 people were jailed in the state’s 21 correctional facilities at the end of 2013. Missouri has the ninth-highest incarceration rate in the country, with 518 people jailed per 100,000 residents. This is 17 percent higher than the national incarceration rate, with a 24 percent higher rate of those who are in prison for violent crimes.

With a steadily increasing inmate population, Missouri is also close to capacity in its correctional facilities, according to the Missouri Department of Corrections. This leads to overcrowded conditions, violence, corruption, and generally unsafe environments for both prisoners and corrections officers. Meanwhile, as many states are increasing their parole populations in an effort to avoid increased incarceration rates and inflated corrections costs, the parole population in Missouri has almost flatlined since 2003.

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This is part of a more widespread national problem. As more people are incarcerated, more pressure is put on state budgets by corrections spending and less funds exist for other programs and improvements, while taxpayer burden increases, U.S. News and World Report noted. According to data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, state spending on corrections has increased by 141 percent since 1986, compared with 69 percent for K-12 education and just 6 percent for higher education.

While higher incarceration rates often point to higher crime rates and higher numbers of violent offenses, that’s not always the case, The Huffington Post noted. Because most people in prison have broken state laws, not federal laws, the incarceration rate in a state is often indicative of the state’s enforcement policies. For example, Texas has a comparably low crime rate, but the third-highest incarceration rate in the nation.

In 2012, the Missouri Department of Corrections reported
on those incarcerated by type of offense. The top five crimes for which state residents were imprisoned included first degree robbery (8.2 percent), distribution of a controlled substance (7.4 percent), second degree burglary (6.6 percent), second degree murder (6.6 percent), and felony possession of a controlled substance (6.1 percent).

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Several prison reform bills are currently on the table in the state, the National Catholic Reporter noted. House Bill 491 proposes reducing first time offender sentences by 50 percent; a second bill, H.B. 657, excludes those convicted of first-degree murder and sex offenses from that provision. A third bill, Senate Bill 187, provides a parole hearing for anyone who has served 15 years, including those sentenced to life in prison without parole.

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The incarceration rate in Missouri is among the highest in the country. According to data from the National Institute of Corrections, 31,537 people were jailed in the state's 21 correctional facilities at the end of 2013.
incarceration rates, Missouri
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2015-05-01
Tuesday, 01 Dec 2015 04:05 PM
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