Colorado Sex Crime Attorney Blog

Incarceration Rate in the U.S: Highest in the World

Posted by Kyle B. Sawyer | Jan 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

Did you know that the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world? And, did you know we've held that record since 2002? This should make you pause and consider the policies in place which have imprisoned so many people in our country. As a skilled criminal defense lawyer, I am aware many innocent and overcharged people go to prison over the years. This is largely due to the way sex offenses are prosecuted in Adams, Denver, and Jefferson County and across the nation as well as represented by inexperienced attorneys. Let's take a look at what I mean.

Incarceration Rate: The Numbers

Let's take a moment to look at the numbers. According to one study, the incarceration rate in countries comparable to the U.S. is 100 people in prison per 100,000 population. Here in the U.S., the incarceration rate is about 480 people in prison per 100,000 people. As of 2013, there are 1,574,700 men and women in prison in the United States. In Colorado prisons, according to the latest statistics, there are 135, 981 people in prison. And, the number keeps on rising. It rose 1.1% from the previous year in Colorado, and has risen significantly over the past 10 years (see the chart from the Bureau of Justice Statistics).

[pullquote align=”center” textalign=”center” width=”55%”]The U.S. has less than 5% of the world's population, but 25% of the world's prisoners.[/pullquote]

Why is the Incarceration Rate So High?

The United States has less than 5% of the world's population. But, we have 25% of the world's prisoners. Why is this rate so high? I can speak for Arapahoe, El Paso, and Douglas County, and the rest of Colorado: The high number is due largely to how our government handles sex crimes. In 1998, legislation called the Lifetime Supervision Act passed. Let's look at some of the consequences and statistics since that act went into effect:

  • The number of people serving life sentences for sex crimes is 41 times greater than it was 16 years ago.
  • Sex offenders in prison for life now outnumber those convicted of Murder, Kidnapping, Child Abuse resulting in death, armed robbers, habitual offenders, and arsonists. In fact, 63% of all people serving life sentences were convicted of a sex offense.
  • In the six years following the passing of the new law, the Parole Board didn't release one sex offender sentenced under indeterminate sentencing.
  • Sex offenders can't be released until they receive sex offender treatment – only there aren't enough treatment providers. Inmates sit in prison for years awaiting treatment.

The reasoning behind this system is that sex offenders “can't be cured.” Therefore, they need to simply be imprisoned. In fact, this is the reason the Lifetime Supervision Act passed – the belief that sex offenders are incurable. But, since the act passed, new research shows that many sex offenders can be treated – they can avoid being charged again and can reintegrate back into society (studies show that sex offender registration can actually cause people to reoffend). Often, people believe all sex offenders committed horrendous crimes. But in reality, many people are convicted of indeterminate sentence offenses that are small. These crimes aren't necessarily violent, but the government wants to appear “tough.”

[pullquote align=”center” textalign=”center” width=”50%”]63% of all people serving life sentences were convicted of a sex offense.[/pullquote]

Why You Need a Lawyer if You've Been Charged with a Sex Offense

If you have been contacted by the police regarding sex offense charges, don't hesitate to contact an affordable, knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer immediately. While a recent audit of the Colorado Department of Corrections has shed light on the inefficiency of the Lifetime Supervision Act, sex offenders are still treated as guilty until proven innocent in Colorado courtrooms. You need an advocate who can defend your future and speak on your behalf. Don't stand alone in court if you've been charged with a sex crime; work with an aggressive attorney who has the experience in court. The lawyers at the O'Malley Law Office have 40 years of combined experience we will bring into your case.

Request a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one has been charged with a sex offense, be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the O'Malley Law Office for a free consultation at 303-830-0880. Together, we can protect your future.

About the Author

Kyle B. Sawyer

I have a passion for defending others in criminal cases. I am able to empathize with my clients and understand their emotions and fears. I have a unique perspective on the criminal justice system and I understand what it feels like to be wrongly accused of a crime.


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