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Criminal Activity and Arrests

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A picture speaks a thousand words; and the charts in this section speak for themselves in terms of what is happening in U.S. society with respect to the incidence of criminal activity. In fact, the United States (in 1990) had the world's highest incarceration rate, with 743 prisoners per 100,000 population—due to both higher crime rates than other countries and stiffer criminal justice policies. Yet even with record numbers in prisons and jails, crime rates soar. In fact, with the United States leading the world with the highest incarceration rates, only two other industrialized countries come close to this high rates: South Africa with 333 per 100,000, and the Russia with 577 per 100,000. Comparatively, the median rate in western Europe is generally 96 per 100,000, and in Asia, 42 to 155.5 per 100,000 depending on the part of Asia considered. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 2,266,800 adults were incarcerated in U.S. federal and state prisons, and county jails at year-end 2010—about 0.7% of adults in the U.S. resident population.

US adult correctional population
(Source: US Bureau of Justice Statistics)

prison incarceration rate per 100,000 1930-2010 prison and jail incarceration rate per 100,000 1980-2010

The ridiculously shortsighted War on Drugs is one of the main culprits here, since it has results like these: "Almost one in five inmates in state prisons and half of those in federal prisons are serving time for drug offenses. In 2010, 1.64 million people were arrested for drug violations. Four out of five arrests were for possession. Nearly half were for possession of often-tiny amounts of marijuana." (Source: Some of them end up beaten, killed, raped, or with hepatitus or HIV that they didn't have when they arrived. These were nonviolent victimless offenders that will leave prison with a record and not be able to find work. All this for a couple of joints? The incredible waste of life, money, and time is mind-boggling! Are our leaders all insane?! Did Obama help this situation? He just raised its budget in 2013! The definition of insanity is doing the same hopelessly brain-dead thing over and over, always expecting a different result.

war on drugs

With criminal activity never ceasing, private security has been increasing. Private security is projected to grow more than 6 percent in 2012 – the largest increase in nine years, according to a 2010 IBIS World Industry Report on Security Services in the United States. Private security guards, outnumbering the number of public police officers in the U.S., comprised 2.6 percent of the U.S. work force by 1990 (the percentage in 1970 was 1.3 percent). There were 1,090,600 private security jobs in 2010. (Source: The ten largest private security companies increased their revenues by 62 percent in the 80s making private security one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. (even faster growing than the legal profession). (Source: Reich, Robert, The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1991. See "The Growth of Private Security," in William C. Cunningham and Todd H. Taylor, Private Security and Police in America, Portland, OR: Chancellor Press, 1985, and L. Uchitelle, "Sharp Rise of Private Guard Jobs," New York Times, October 14, 1989, p. A16)

By 1990, private police comprised three-fourths of all police officers in the United States. (Source: ES Savas [2000], Privatization and Public-Private Partnerships) As of March 31, 2011, there were more than 28,000 private security contractor personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq, representing 18% of DOD’s total contractor workforce in those two countries. In 2008, state and local law enforcement agencies employed more than 1.1 million persons on a full-time basis, including about 765,000 sworn personnel (defined as those with general arrest powers). Agencies also employed approximately 100,000 part-time employees, including 44,000 sworn officers. (Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies, 2008)

One of the fastest-growing among government jobs is prison guard. Between 1960 and 1980 the U.S. prison population doubled. It doubled again between 1980 and 1990. The American Correctional Association predicts great growth as long of the results of the War on Drugs keep ending up behind bars. And in 1989 prison spending was the fastest-growing category in state budgets. (Source: E.J. Dionne, Jr., "Prison Spending Rises Fastest in State Budgets," New York Times, August 8, 1989, p. A16) Although the number of correctional employees expanded from 300,000 to more than 750,000 (150 percent) between 1982 and 1999, the growth has not kept up with the increased demand for correctional officers, according to a study conducted by Workforce Associates Inc. for the American Correctional Association. In 2011, there were 448,740 prison guards in the U.S. (Source:


There were 13,687,241 arrests (except traffic violations) in 2009 in the United States. Of these arrests, 581,765 were for violent crimes and 1,728,285 were for property crimes. The highest arrest counts were for drug abuse violations (estimated at 1,663,582 arrests), driving under the influence (estimated at 1,440,409), and larceny-theft (estimated at 1,334,933). The arrest rate was 4,478.0 arrests per 100,000 inhabitants of the total estimated United States population. (Source:

drug abuse violation arrests 1982-2007

number of arrests by drug law 1982-2007

number of arrests by drug type 1982-2007
(Source for the 3 charts above: FBI, Uniform Crime Reports, Crime in the United States)