Monday, August 19, 2019

Police in the U.S. make 10.5 million arrests a year

Police around the U.S. arrest people 10.5 million times each year, and many of those are unnecessary, contends a new report from the Vera Institute of Justice, reported by The Crime Report.
Because most arrests are not for serious crimes but for offenses like drug possession, public drunkenness, and disorderly conduct, many cases could be handled effectively by other means and thus not contribute to the nation’s mass incarceration, Vera suggested.
“To chart a new course in American policing, police should use arrest sparingly,
intentionally, and transparently,” declared the report.
The effect of arrests on incarceration is particularly noticeable in local jails, which held 745,200 inmates as of mid-2017, only a small number lower than the total in 2005.
Citing data from the FBI and the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Vera said that for every 100 arrests the nation’s 18,000 police departments made in 2016, there were 99 admissions to jail.
This compares with a much lower ratio 25 years ago, when there were 70 jail admissions for every 100 arrests.
Rates of reported crime have dropped sharply during that period, indicating that police these days are more likely to make an arrest in a typical case.
As the report puts it, “Police enforcement has become an expressway to jail.”
The high arrest totals have an especially severe impact on minorities. In
2016, black people were arrested at more than twice the rate of whites, approximately 5,313 and 2,444 per 100,000, respectively.
That disparity has been consistent for 15 years.
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