“The Growth, Scope, and Spatial Distribution of People With Felony Records in the United States, 1948–2010”

That is the title of a new article in “Demography” magazine from the Population Association of America and lead author Sarah Shannon, a sociologist from the University of Georgia. The abstract: 

“The steep rise in U.S. criminal punishment in recent decades has spurred scholarship on the collateral consequences of imprisonment for individuals, families, and communities. Several excellent studies have estimated the number of people who have been incarcerated and the collateral consequences they face, but far less is known about the size and scope of the total U.S. population with felony convictions beyond prison walls, including those who serve their sentences on probation or in jail. This article develops state-level estimates based on demographic life tables and extends previous national estimates of the number of people with felony convictions to 2010. We estimate that 3 % of the total U.S. adult population and 15 % of the African American adult male population has ever been to prison; people with felony convictions account for 8 % of all adults and 33 % of the African American adult male population. We discuss the far-reaching consequences of the spatial concentration and immense growth of these groups since 1980.”

As The Crime Report notes in their own synopsis of the article, the critical figure is the staggering percentages of people with felony convictions – almost 1 in 10 people in the US has a felony record – regardless of whether they have been to prison or not: “… as criminal justice reform targets mass incarceration… ‘many of the collateral consequences of punishment—most notably for the labor market, housing, and access to public supports—flow not from incarceration experiences but from the application of a widely known and publicly disseminated felony label.'”

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