NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 28, 2008

The prevalence of crime in the United States, which has slipped off the political agenda since its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s, is about to return, says the Washington Post.

Consider a report, by Third Way, a liberal think tank:

  • Twenty years ago, the country's total prison population was 700,000; next year alone, that many will be released from prison, and, if past trends hold, nearly two-thirds will be rearrested.
  • In the next five years, the number of young adults and teenagers will have increased by 1 million, and, if past patterns hold, that will boost the number of crimes by 2.5 million.

The Third Way report is full with hopeful examples of what some states are doing to head off this explosion.  But the bad news is that the federal government seems to be in retreat.  Consider:

  • Currently, two-thirds of state prisoners lack high school diplomas, and roughly half are illiterate or drug-dependent.
  • Surveys have found that during their imprisonment, only half reported taking any education courses or holding work assignments.
  • Barely more than one-third received help for mental health problems or drug abuse; when released, they mostly found little transition assistance.

Making matters worse are the infiltration of criminal gangs into the surge of illegal immigrants, and the technology revolution that has made the Internet a place of danger for unsupervised youths.  These and other factors suggest the problem needs to be addressed sooner rather than later, says the Post.

Source: David S. Broder, "A Comeback For the Crime Issue," Washington Post, February 24, 2008.

For text:

For report:


Browse more articles on Government Issues