Prison-Building Boom

Should more money be spent on rehabilitation?


The number of Americans behind bars has grown to nearly 2 million, requiring federal and state governments to build an unprecedented number of prisons. Conservatives argue that while regrettable, the prison-building boom has helped to bring down the nation's high crime rate. But liberals and others say the United States is building prison cells when it should be combating crime by spending more money on education and drug treatment. In addition, they argue, other tough-on-crime measures, such as mandatory minimum sentences and truth-in-sentencing laws, are simply keeping minor felons in jail too long and at great expense to the taxpayers. But proponents of tough sentencing laws counter that they are needed as an antidote to lenient judges.

The medium-security jail facility in Castaic, Calif., houses some ...

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