World News and Trends: Record number of Americans in jail

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Record number of Americans in jail

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These figures have skyrocketed since 1985, with the prison population soaring upward 131 percent, those in jail jumping 100 percent, those on parole rising 134 percent and those on probation increasing 61 percent. The total represents 2.8 percent of the American adult population.

Although women make up only 6.3 percent of the prison population, they account for an increasing number of the incarcerated, said the report. Nearly 75,000 women were serving prison sentences in 1996, a 9.1 percent increase over the previous year. More than 650,000 women were on probation and 79,000 on parole. Officials attribute much of this increase to mandatory sentencing for drug offenses.

Although four of every five arrests are of men, the number of women involved in criminal activity is increasing at a much higher rate. While the number of men arrested rose 12 percent between 1986 and 1996, the number of women arrested rose by an extraordinary 38 percent. (Sources: Associated Press, USA Today, The Washington Post. )

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