Summary of Ten Economic Facts about Crime and Incarceration in the United States

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Ten Economic Facts about Crime and Incarceration in the United States summary
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The Hamilton Project has gathered dismaying statistics about US crime and punishment, dispassionate numbers that paint a gut-wrenching picture of squandered human and economic potential. Though the topic isn’t new, its growing consequences are a wake-up call for those who think that locking up lawbreakers and throwing away the key makes for a safer, more productive society. getAbstract recommends this effort to quantify an all-too-real social issue.

About the Authors

Melissa S. Kearney is the director of the Hamilton Project, where Benjamin H. Harris is policy director and Elisa Jácome and Lucie Parker are research assistants.



Crime and punishment in America exact a brutal toll on victims, criminals and society at large. Research highlights “10 economic facts about crime and incarceration in the US”:

  1. “Crime rates have steadily declined” – More police on patrol and more imprisoned people, along with less crack cocaine addiction, account for a two-decades-long drop in national crime rates. Yet certain crimes continue to increase in some low-income areas.
  2. “Low-income individuals are more be victims of crime” – People with household incomes of less than $15,000 per year experience three times the “victimization...

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