r/dataisbeautiful OC: 35 Oct 10 '21 Silver 1 Helpful 2

[OC] US Nationwide Incarceration 1925-2016 OC

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9.3k Upvotes

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1.2k

u/MisterJose Oct 10 '21 Wholesome

The percentage of Americans in the prison systemprison system has doubled since 1985

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u/MorboThinksYourePuny OC: 6 Oct 10 '21

That song came out in 2001.

So, eyeballing the graph:

  • 1985 = 400k
  • 2001 = 1,300k

That's from the post, but SOAD was talking about "doubling percentage" so normalize by US population:

  • 1985 = 238m so 0.17%
  • 2001 = 285m so 0.45%

Holy shit lol... they lowballed it. The percentage of Americans in the prison system has nearly tripled since 1985!

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u/[deleted] Oct 10 '21 edited Oct 10 '21

!? THE PERCENTAGE!? Some people really can't understand how monumentally awful that is. You might expect some growth in prison populations in a country that grows as much as the US did between 1980 and 2007. But to grow that much and then triple the percentage, that's just ridiculous. That shows the clear harm that US drug policy has had on its own society.

https://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/cato-handbook-policymakers/2017/2/cato-handbook-for-policymakers-8th-edition-23_0.pdf

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u/Abysmal_poptart Oct 10 '21

They're trying to build a prison.. They're trying to build a prison.. they're trying to build a prison.. For you and me to live in..

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u/TooTiredOk Oct 10 '21

Another prison system, another prison system, another prison system, for you and me!

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u/omnicorphan23 Oct 10 '21

what is this from?

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u/ethnictrailmix Oct 10 '21

Prison Song by System of a Down

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u/rental99 Oct 10 '21

🤘🤘🤘🤘

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u/DuntadaMan Oct 10 '21

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u/raybrignsx Oct 10 '21

“We brag about having bread but none of us are bakers”. That’s some good shit.

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u/[deleted] Oct 10 '21

IMO still one of the best raps of all time.

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u/SteveOSS1987 Oct 10 '21

Utilizing drugs to pay for secret wars around the world Drugs are now your global policy Now you police the globe

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u/MWolman1981 Oct 10 '21

I wonder if the drop in recent years on the graph is caused by the relaxing of drug laws and marijuana legalization. Would be interesting to see a subset of drug offenses over the same time period.

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u/Joe_Jeep Oct 10 '21

It's almost certainly a major factor. Such charges were a huge source of inmates. But data would be good to confirm.

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u/XkF21WNJ Oct 10 '21

It's kind of interesting how this has sparked a discussion, as if people are trying to get you to reconsider the lyrics to a song written in 2001.

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u/schtulin Oct 10 '21

Drug money is used to rig elections and train brutal corporate-sponsored dictators around the world!

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u/thisworldwherewelive Oct 10 '21

If only there were a way to funnel that money into legitimate tax paying accountable businesses instead of the hands of criminals

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u/acidorpheus Oct 10 '21

would be nice if there were a difference between those two things

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u/omnicorphan23 Oct 10 '21

what is this a reference of?

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u/hhpl15 Oct 10 '21

A song of the band 'system of a down' called 'prison song'

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u/phreakzilla85 Oct 10 '21

All your taxes paying for the wars against the new non-rich

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u/rambulox Oct 10 '21

Land of the Free!

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1.3k

u/Werner_Herzogs_Dream Oct 10 '21

I'd like to see this data scaled to the population. Not trying to invalidate what this chart shows, I just think it would bring a clearer picture.

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u/mjb2012 Oct 10 '21 Silver

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u/Moloshe Oct 10 '21

it's funny how this manages to look worse when i was expecting it to be more moderate

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u/HautVorkosigan Oct 10 '21

The way the graph is presented differently does matter here. OP's graph shows an expansion of ~7x from the beginning of the 70s, whilst the incarceration rate graph on Wikipedia shows only ~5x. So it's still awful, but it is indeed a little moderated.

Edit: the gender split in that graph is also a little unhelpful as it makes it appear as if it is only a male crisis but the reality is that the scale of the graph is such that it's actually impossible to tell whether the same rapid expansion occured for women (although it is very effective at highlighting that men overall dominate incarceration).

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u/UnblurredLines Oct 10 '21

I'm curious though, what happened after '75 to suddenly make male incarceration rates quintuple?

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u/argort Oct 10 '21

War on Drugs.

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u/UnblurredLines Oct 10 '21

Are female drug users less likely to be incarcerated or are men just that much more prolific users?

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u/OhBarnacles123 Oct 10 '21

Women in general are waaaaaaay less likely to get arrested. If they're arrested they're waaaaaaay less likely to get charged. If they're charged they're waaaaaaay less likely to get convicted. And finally if they are convicted they get waaaaaaay lower sentences on average.

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u/HowObvious Oct 10 '21

It wont just be users, it will be all parts of the drug trade. I would presume men are more likely to be involved in gangs and the sale of drugs.

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u/iamnotasloth Oct 10 '21

Men are also more likely to be arrested, period. Not saying police will ignore a woman committing a crime in public, but police absolutely profile everyone they see and are more likely to arrest people they personally see as a threat.

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u/nkfallout Oct 10 '21

This and I believe men tend to receive longer sentences for similar crimes so population will grow a bit faster.

Although that may not be material, not sure.

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u/jlmad Oct 10 '21

Crisis after crisis and a War on Poverty helped too. The incarceration bill wasn’t great either.

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u/Voiceofreason81 Oct 10 '21

The hippies and Black Panthers started to gain too much power so they created a war on marijuana to take down the leaders of these organizations. Funny that marijuana was the gateway drug too all of them becoming illegal unless a pharmaceutical company is making money on it.

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u/Brownbearbluesnake Oct 10 '21

Crime itself went up, the war on drugs went into effect, mandatory sentences and I'm somewhat guessing on this last 1 but a change in the bail system probably played a role. A large chunk of the incarcerated population is people awaiting trial or stuck waiting until bail can be paid for them.

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u/Woah_Mad_Frollick Oct 10 '21

people just do not want to grapple with the scale of mass incarceration

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u/[deleted] Oct 10 '21

[removed]

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u/CreamofTazz Oct 10 '21

I mean it very very very much correlates with the "war on drugs" here. Anyone making excuses it just not reading the graph and lying to themselves.

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u/FlashCrashBash Oct 10 '21

Also the "tough on crime" period in the 80s/90s. Thanks Biden.

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u/akmp40 Oct 10 '21

Crime spiked in the 80s so everyone and their mother (not just the politicians obviously) wanted to be tough on crime in the 80s. If you seriously do care about the ridiculously high incarceration at least have some knowledge about it.

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u/GracchiBros Oct 10 '21

This wasn't a unique thing to the US, yet the US is far and away the leader in incarceration.

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u/FlashCrashBash Oct 10 '21

Crime spiked in the 80s

Wonder why. Might have had something to do with all the crack the CIA was selling.

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u/leopard_eater Oct 10 '21

And the fact that Reagan had closed mental hospitals and long term facilities.

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u/jankadank Oct 10 '21

This is a convenient lie the left loves to throw out. In 1980 under Jimmy Carter, the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980 was passed. This bill provided federal grants to local community mental health centers. One year later, democrats with majorities in the house and senate, repealed the act.

Reagan signed the repeal, which was placed on his desk by Congress,

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u/drquakers Oct 10 '21

While I get it was a joke, the violent crime rate does correlate well with the use of leaded petrol, offset by 20 years (ie exposure to high lead levels as a child may have resulted in the much higher crime levels 20 odd years later). Correlation does not prove causation, but it is a compelling relationship.

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u/FlashCrashBash Oct 10 '21

Also seems to correlate with how much crack the CIA sells.

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u/JovialJayou1 Oct 10 '21

There’s also a very interesting correlation between the passing of Roe v. Wade and the dramatic decline of violent crime in the 90s.

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u/jankadank Oct 10 '21

The crack epidemic in inner cities happened in the 80s and communities were begging law makers to step in with much more harsher laws

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u/Threezeley Oct 10 '21

My takeaway is 1% of the male population is incarcerated per year

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u/SeeMarkFly Oct 10 '21

The wrong 1%.

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u/[deleted] Oct 10 '21

[removed]

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u/tatanka01 Oct 10 '21

It's like some people don't even want to try to fix things

Hell, we have a party that is actively trying to make things worse.

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u/ErikHK Oct 10 '21

"specific thing"? What about military overspending? The hundreds of thousands of people murdered overseas by the US government? Police violence? Healthcare costs? Affordable housing? Come on, the US is fucked.

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u/Stig_Baasvik Oct 10 '21

My suspicion is that no-one can credibly argue that the war on drugs is worth fighting anymore, it's gone, they lost that one. BUT they can always trot out the 'oh it's too difficult!' line to protect the status quo. That's thier last resort.
You see exactly the same thing when talking about climate change...

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u/[deleted] Oct 10 '21

[removed]

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u/stringerbbell Oct 10 '21

The world is fucked bro, so you're not wrong.

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u/EmeraldV OC: 1 Oct 10 '21

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u/bellends Oct 10 '21

This was amazing, thank you for sharing. I highly encourage everyone to check this out — a true /r/dataisbeautiful post in its own right, and incredibly important information too. Being from the EU, I knew it was bad but I am shocked. 1 in 3 black men in the US will go to prison in their life, but even the population of white men alone in US prisons is more than the EU prison population combined. Unreal.

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u/Llohr Oct 10 '21

You can roughly scale it in your head pretty easily. The population (almost) tripled, so assuming an even incarceration rate per 100k, the total prison population in 2015 would be ~300k. As opposed to the actual 2015 prison population of ~1.45m.

So the rate per 100k people went up by a factor of 4.5-5x in that period.

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u/PairOfMonocles2 Oct 10 '21

Same here. It’s obviously still going to jump way up in the 80s and 90s but I almost wonder if it wasn’t decreasing from the 20s until then!

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u/nworb200 Oct 10 '21

To me it's concerning that the prison population hasn't dropped further when allowing for a substantial drop in crime rates

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u/GoTeamScotch Oct 10 '21

So many charts I see about US society just go off the rails in the early 70s.

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u/JimBeam823 Oct 10 '21

The Boomers hit adulthood.

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u/czarnick123 Oct 10 '21

It's fun to blame a generation of people but massive shifts in a variety of economic issues happened in the early 1970s that has lead to a popular question "what happened in '71?" Wealth inequality exploded since then.

Some random things:

Opening up trade with china. Collapse of the rust belt manufacturing. White flight from those areas. Containerization is underrated in these discussions. Computers automating clerking jobs. Two income households becoming the norm leading to increased housing prices. And a whole lot more!

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u/Biguwuiscute Oct 10 '21

But the Boomers literally Democratically decided to double down on neoliberalism with Reagan rather than listen to those damn hippies.

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u/drmojo78 Oct 10 '21

They should have listened to the hippies

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u/Joe_Jeep Oct 10 '21

And then then 80s had Regan oversee the opposite of course correction.

Fucker even stopped the further adoption of the metric system. We'd started signing highways in KM and he put a stop to that.

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u/mainlydank Oct 10 '21

While I am 100% for switching to the metric system, you used probably the worst example possible out of all of them to further your point.

Driving on the highway, especially long distance you really don't need the metric system.

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u/TheyCallMeStone Oct 10 '21

Calling Reagan the worst president ever for failing to adopt the metric system is one of the most reddit moments I've seen recently.

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u/radome9 Oct 10 '21

Worst. President. Ever Until Trump.

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u/Frendazone Oct 10 '21

Trump is not even the worst president since reagan trump did not start two insanely awful wars come on

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u/FourKindsOfRice Oct 10 '21 edited Oct 10 '21

I like to put it this way: Trump did the most moral and cultural damage to this country - not so easily measured but still evident (see Jan 6, anti vax suicide cult, general increase in toxicity, lies, hatred).

Bush Jr and Reagan did the most material damage, costing the most money and lives by far. They also were key to destroying the middle class and punishing the poor like never before, especially Reagan. They increased spending massively while cutting taxes, ensuring future generations get the bill.

In a sense they were more dangerous because they did the shitty things quietly and professionally, instead of saying the quiet part out loud and always shooting themselves in the foot trump style.

Sometimes I think we were lucky Trump is such a babbling idiot. Next one who gets in with the same ideas but less stupidity will be really dangerous. Still, his ego did basically launch the first coup attempt in modern American history. The stupid can still be plenty dangerous.

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u/Kaboobie Oct 10 '21

I'd argue he was worse Trump is a symptom Reagan was more like the disease.

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u/Spider_pig448 Oct 10 '21

Reagan is far worse than Trump. Trump is just recent. Otherwise he's quite forgettable

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u/Sid2187 Oct 10 '21

Really? I'd take incompetent buffoonery over competent malice any day. The Trump presidency had some of the greatest improvements in the history of the US presidency. He couldn't do anything without the people knowing about it, and the rest of the government actually did things to keep him in check. It took having a jackass for a president for America to actually want to keep a politician in line. Hopefully we'll keep that same energy with every president moving forward.

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u/Joe_Jeep Oct 10 '21

I was really hoping it'd result in some bipartisan support for scaling back the expansion of executive powers

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u/radome9 Oct 10 '21

You are a glass-half-full kind of guy, aren't you?

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u/cbaryx Oct 10 '21

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u/klopolklopolk Oct 10 '21

That site mixes up so many things it's just useless.

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u/Zeig9 Oct 10 '21

It's a Bitcoin ad. It's entire purpose is to trick moronic faux socialists into thinking that Nixon abolishing the Gold Standard was the cause of wealth inequality, rather than the reality of decades of conservative monetary policy, to get them to buy Bitcoin.

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u/klopolklopolk Oct 10 '21

Thx. That needs a special kind of illiteracy to believe in.

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u/radome9 Oct 10 '21

Well, shit.

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u/VerneAsimov Oct 10 '21

Reaganomics and neoliberalism really fucked the economy up badly.

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u/chairfairy Oct 10 '21

Don't leave Nixon out of this - War on Drugs started in 1971, "coincidentally" right before the graph starts to shoot up

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u/drmojo78 Oct 10 '21

100% right on the fucking nose brother or sister. He enacted the war on drugs and, imo, was the catalyst of normalizing popularity over policy; memes over morality and showmanship over compassion. I got clean 3 years ago and considered having children, until about exactly one year ago. I don't want to bring anybody into this world; into this country. Granted, yes, America is amazing when viewed in light of the rest of this planet, but it won't be that way for long the way things are going.

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u/Orcwin Oct 10 '21

And for some reason, the rest of the world saw that, thought it looked like a good idea and wanted a piece of the action.

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u/charliesfrown Oct 10 '21 Hugz

Because it's steroids for your economy. The entire population goes from having low debt to having high debt. Financial services can then turn that debt into 10x/100x hypothetical future monies. So paper wealth is created overnight. All these governments then point at their muscles and say to the electorate how strong they are.

All of it works so long as each succesive generation takes on even more debt. Which is of course unsustainable and it fell apart in 2008. Rather than recognise that though, quantitative easing has become the new steroids. That's why the economy is so dysfunctional.

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u/FourKindsOfRice Oct 10 '21

Yup. Thank Nixon then Reagan primarily, altho basically all governments after that did little to stop the craziness.

Also incidentally when middle class wage stagnation started, around the early 70s to today.

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u/nomadbeforenomad Oct 10 '21

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-strikes_law. The three strikes law may have added a reason for the sustained increase in the 90s.

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u/JohnGB Oct 10 '21

There are thousands with life in prison for shoplifting, which is totally indefensible.

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u/BannedSoHereIAm Oct 10 '21

Politicians are criminally corrupt, and bribed in broad daylight, without consequence, while they write the laws that jail people for weed and misdemeanours.

It’s a fucking crime against humanity.

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u/N81LR Oct 10 '21

It would be interesting to see it alongside reported violent crime and reported non violent crime.

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u/rollie82 Oct 10 '21

Some thoughts: I think this would make much more sense as a rate 'per 100k' to control for population growth (or even better, per 100k between 18-50). I think differentiating between state/federal is less interesting than violent/non-violent.

Also, some context about crime rate - which has been decreasing in recent decades - should be included. Per that link, violent crime has been decreasing per-capita since 1991. You would expect lower crime rates to lead to lower incarceration, which only started decreasing after ~20 years. But it might also be reasonable to think that an increased focus on crime lead to higher incarceration of bad actors, which lead to lower crime (both because those bad actors were incarcerated, and because other bad actors understand the relatively higher risk of criminal activity).

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u/KhaleesiDog OC: 35 Oct 10 '21

Here is a look at the rate per 100k population: Incarceration Rate (per 100k)

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u/Joe_Jeep Oct 10 '21

Late 90s: "Maybe we're imprisoning too many people..."

9/11 onwards "You make an appointment with the dentist and you don't show up, believe it or not, jail, right away."

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u/pj1897 Oct 10 '21

Overcook fish? Jail!

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u/Zithero Oct 10 '21

War on Drugs.

Drugs aren't a violent crime.

Hell owning/taking/selling drugs isn't even a crime, but here it is.

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u/KhaleesiDog OC: 35 Oct 10 '21

Those are good points and this (and related) have some great potential for exploration. In this case, the raw numbers just hit me as soon as I saw them. There had to be some kind major changes going on in the country to see such a dramatic shift in growth in such a small period of time.

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u/mrjonesv2 Oct 10 '21

Ronald Reagan made US prisons a for profit industry, or privatized prisons, in the 1980’s. Completely coincidentally, the US prison population doubled during his presidency.

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u/chairfairy Oct 10 '21

This curve started before Reagan, under Nixon. War on Drugs was 1971, which is right before this curve started

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u/B_Eazy86 Oct 10 '21

Three words: War on drugs

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u/kepler1 OC: 2 Oct 10 '21

During the approximate time period shown in your plot, the population of the US roughly tripled. So I would say it's an important factor to account for.

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u/KhaleesiDog OC: 35 Oct 10 '21

Here is a look at the incarceration rate (per 100k in population) of the same data over the same timespan: Incarceration rate (100k).

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u/JackMinnesota Oct 10 '21

It's almost like around the time that black and poor communities organized, and faught effectively for civil rights and social equality measures, that state and federal government decided to criminalize activities in those communities to destroy social cohesion.

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u/ashleybeth913 Oct 10 '21 edited Oct 10 '21

That’s such a weird coincidence that when prisons were made for profit the incarceration rate went through the roof. So bizarre.

Edit: corrected spelling since I implied this was a Middle Eastern open air market.

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u/peachsodabreeze Oct 10 '21

try the war on drugs, prison privatization was a result of the increase in incarceration

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u/ashleybeth913 Oct 10 '21

Wait wait wait, you’re saying they ARE related?? /s

You’re absolutely right though. The war on drugs caused such an uptick in locking people in cages they ran out of cages. So being the good ol US of A we found a way to capitalize cages.

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u/slickyslickslick Oct 10 '21

he's saying that they're correlated but not what you implied, that privatization CAUSED increases in incarceration, and that there was another cause.

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u/seth928 Oct 10 '21

So bazaar.

I can't tell if this is on purpose.

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u/ashleybeth913 Oct 10 '21

Oh man, not on purpose, just dumb.

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u/seth928 Oct 10 '21

Oooooo baby

oooo baby

It's making me crazy

it's making me crazy

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u/NJShadow Oct 10 '21

Every time I look arounnnnnnnnd.

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u/SteveOSS1987 Oct 10 '21

Every time I look around

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u/somejunk Oct 10 '21

Yeah... not really the case. It's a multifaceted thing. For profit is ~10% of all incarcerated, non-violent drug offenses are another ~20%, but then there's the problem of recidivism which is pretty high in US, then there's also the whole bail industry and how we've got over half a million people in jail (~25%) who haven't even been convicted of a crime. Check out some of the stuff on prisonpolicy.org, it's good to be informed

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u/JackRose322 Oct 10 '21

I don’t think that really explains the increase at all. Only 8% of the prison population in the country are in private prisons.

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u/CalabreseAlsatian Oct 10 '21

Even public prisons have plenty of private ties/economic interests. Food supply can be contracted out, as can linens/blankets, etc.

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u/Rds2596 Oct 10 '21

But other countries' public prisons presumably also purchase supplies from private businesses. So that cannot be the differentiator for the US to explain the higher prison population.

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u/experts_never_lie Oct 10 '21

Many other countries don't have fully legal slavery of prisoners, and then put them to work for private companies.

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u/Paradoltec Oct 10 '21

Because of profit margins being special in the US. Other countries have far higher standards (and rights) for prisoners. In the US there are some prisons where the food is so trash you'd probably get shit for feeding it to pigs, but you can be certain the company that provided it was profiting excellent by taking a $5 per meals contract and giving them $1.25 worth of floor scrapings and pig anuses dressed up as food.

This is somewhat tacitly supported by a worrying amount of the population who seriously do believe that if you're in prison, for whatever reason, you deserve to sleep on concrete in a solitary hole without sunlight until the day you're released. You're literally subhuman to them and those people support this system as it is.

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u/hangoverDOTTED Oct 10 '21

And then once you get out, they still want you to legally be a second class citizen by stripping you of your right to vote.

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u/zeronic Oct 10 '21

The worst part is even when you get out, nobody wants to ever deal with you again so you can't get work to live. So people just end up resorting back to crime and going right back. It's an ouroboros cycle that never ends.

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u/lethalox Oct 10 '21

For profit prisons started largely after the big increase in incarceration.

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u/Paradoltec Oct 10 '21

Yes, however it's the other way around. Prisons were made into profit machines AFTER incarceration exploded due to the war on drugs. They didn't arrest people to make a profit, they saw a potential profit in all the people they already arrested.

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u/resorcinarene Oct 10 '21

Yet it only accounts for 10% of the total population in prison

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u/Ragetechh Oct 10 '21

All research and successful drug policies show That treatment should be increased. And law enforcement decreased While abolishing mandatory minimum sentences...

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u/OldeSaltyBeard Oct 10 '21

What? Increased incarceration rates as the for profit prison system started to emerge around 1980? You don't say...

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u/halffacedtruckfuck Oct 10 '21

Shocking how it doubles the second the war on drugs was started

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u/Digitlnoize Oct 10 '21

Now compare it to the graph of the number of people institutionalized in mental hospitals since the 50's.

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u/thatisyou Oct 10 '21

You notice things begin to really accelerate in the late 70s and into the 80s when the state mental hospitals starting being shut down.

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u/Traditional-Meat-549 Oct 10 '21

Just heard about a study on incarceration and search and seizure on automobiles...the Fourth Amendment protects Americans from warrantless searches in their homes. But police can search a car without a warrant, as autos are not mentioned. Its a very gray area. That being said, Nixon began the "war on drugs", although it really ramped up with Reagan. Enter "reasonable suspicion" so pull over a car and search.

The US has the highest incarceration rate of ANY country in the world, including China.

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u/noquarter53 OC: 12 Oct 10 '21

About 80% of the prison population is there for non drug related crimes. I know reddit likes to believe that everyone in prison is there for harmlessly smoking weed, but that's not reality.

Almost half the prison population is there for violent crimes and property crime.

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u/pyramidpi Oct 10 '21

That would be another great diagram to make - % reasons for incarceration over time

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u/przhelp Oct 10 '21

But a lot of it was a consequence of the drug war, as pushing drugs into the black market created a massive amount of illicit money, which resulted in unscrupulous people doing unscrupulous things.

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u/lethalox Oct 10 '21

Also most people don't make the distinction between jail and prison. Prison is long-term, typically at least 1 year or more. Jail is typically less than one year.

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u/MastodonPristine8986 Oct 10 '21

For someone non American can someone please explain the difference between state and federal prisons and why its relevant to seperate them on this graph?

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u/dont_tread_on_meeee Oct 10 '21

Federal crimes are only perpetrated against the federal government, happened on federal property, or somehow involved interstate commerce. E.g. wire fraud, assault on an airplane, etc

State crimes are basically everything else.

If the state crimes are much higher than federal, odds are it's violent crime (assault, murder, rape) or property crime (burglary, larceny, arson) or possession (weapons, drugs, etc)

All your dumb, violent criminals are the ones who inhabit state prisons.

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u/Koltaia30 Oct 10 '21

Land of the free. But free is now a class.

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u/auxdear Oct 10 '21

I’d love to incarceration rate (per capita) vs crime rate (per capita). Esp broken into violent and non-violent

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u/BleiEntchen Oct 10 '21

Ahhh the land of the free.

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u/T-Sonus Oct 10 '21

Vietnam vets coming home and right around the corner is the War on Drugs.. that number explodes because of anti-drug laws

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u/Opee_ Oct 10 '21

Seems like to me, I could be very wrong, that the mass increase from the 70s was the politicizing drugs to be sin and the racist cops who hate racial integration. Again, that's my point of view and could be very wrong.

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u/thefuturethe Oct 10 '21

Bill Clinton was a colossal piece of shit

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u/PopeBasilisk Oct 11 '21

Thanks Nixon you piece of shit

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u/BB_Bandito Oct 10 '21

It's Nixon's grand plan at work. Reduce the heavily-Democratic voting strength of (specifically) blacks and left-wing hippies by felony-criminalizing heroin and marijuana respectively.

He was evil.

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u/KhaleesiDog OC: 35 Oct 10 '21 edited Oct 10 '21

I'm curious, what happened in the early 70's causing the incarceration rate to increase exponentially for the next 40 years...?

Data: Prison Policy Initiative

Tools: Excel

Edit: For those interested I have uploaded the incarceration rate data (per 100k):

https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/q51fro/oc_us_nationwide_incarceration_rate_per_100k/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

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u/lethalox Oct 10 '21

Well the 70's was pretty messed up. See Days of Rage by Bryan Burroughs.

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u/MDev01 Oct 10 '21

War on drugs. Lead in gasoline, I have no idea.

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u/merlin401 OC: 1 Oct 10 '21

It was the war on drugs, started by Nixon, double-downed by Reagan and perpetuated by Clinton (who later admitted he was very wrong for his tough on crime approach)

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u/cyberfrog777 Oct 10 '21

One probable factir following the voting rights act in 1965, there was a dramatic increase in Black voters in subsequent years.

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u/disdkatster Oct 10 '21

It was the 'War on Drugs'. Nixon and his administration needed a way to jail POC and war protestors.

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u/PeterCushingsTriad Oct 10 '21

Thank you Ronald Reagan. The worst president in history

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u/fluorescent_owl Oct 10 '21

What a success the war on drugs turned out to be.

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u/Mizerka Oct 10 '21

one of the driving factors is that state prisons are massively profitable and privatized, if you have capital you can just build your own, outsource inmates for $1/h wage and bank rest of the profits.

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u/naj00 Oct 10 '21

This is called the “War on Drugs.”

Biden only boosted these numbers in 1989.

This “war” needs to stop.

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u/PatSaidJack Oct 10 '21

Interesting how incarcerations started climbing when Reagan shut down all the public social services, isn't it?

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u/Capitol_Mil Oct 10 '21

Is there a split for private vs public prison systems

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u/Nachtzug79 Oct 10 '21

You see when they started to clean NYC streets...

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u/geocam Oct 10 '21

Thank you Nixon for the war on drugs, and Ronald and Nancy Reagan for making it industrial.

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u/Suibian_ni Oct 10 '21

And to think there are Americans who call Australia the world's largest prison.

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u/Joe_Jeep Oct 10 '21

That's mostly a meme about their origins and the hell-fauna that guards it.

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u/s_0_s_z Oct 10 '21

1971 Nixon started the War on Drugs.

1980 Ronald Reagan got elected in the sweeping Republican Revolution which intensified the War on Drugs even further.

We are still seeing the disasterous effects of those 2 events some 50 years later.

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u/Nothing_but_a_Stump Oct 10 '21

You are leaving out the fact Joe Biden wrote those laws to incarcerate people. Reagan rejected Joe's first plan due to fears it was too extreme. Reagan had to temper Joe and the Democrats.

https://theintercept.com/2019/09/17/the-untold-story-joe-biden-pushed-ronald-reagan-to-ramp-up-incarceration-not-the-other-way-around/

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u/chairfairy Oct 10 '21

Black communities also pushed for increased incarceration in hopes it would improve their communities. Lots of people were wrong back then.

I know a lot of us is taking this as an opportunity to shit on Reagan personally, but I think it's safe to say Reagan is representative of an entire ethos that many people supported for many reasons. He was a figurehead - an enthusiastically complicit figurehead to be sure - not the only driver of this. Just like I doubt Biden was the only person sitting at the table to write the laws that put us where we are today.

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u/Need_vagina_pix_nao Oct 10 '21

Starts going up soon after the war on drugs was declared.

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u/drmojo78 Oct 10 '21

I was in prison in 2003 and then once again in 2014, before I got clean, and this doesn't surprise me a bit. The "land of the free" has more incarcerated people per capita than any other country on Earth. At least the war on drugs is taking a turn for the better. Drugs won the war: get over it

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u/death_by_chocolate Oct 10 '21

I wonder what drugs vs everything else would look like?

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u/dont_tread_on_meeee Oct 10 '21 edited Oct 10 '21

Despite what you hear, drugs are a small portion of the incarceration. Most prisoners are violent or committed serious property crime, and are in state prison.

Of the almost 1.3M incarcerated in state prison, only 45K are there for possession.

Source: https://static.prisonpolicy.org/images/pie2020.webp?v=1

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u/noquarter53 OC: 12 Oct 10 '21

There's this feeling on Reddit that everyone in prison is there for harmlessly smoking weed.

The reality is that drug crimes are about 18% of the prison population.

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u/pm_favorite_boobs Oct 10 '21

Is it possible that crimes might be somehow related to drugs even if they're not committed under the influence or in trafficking?

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u/[deleted] Oct 10 '21 edited Oct 15 '21

[deleted]

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u/przhelp Oct 10 '21

Its actually than creating black markets for drugs has lots of knock-on violence, both organized and unorganized.

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u/Joe_Jeep Oct 10 '21

multi fold

Wasting police efforts on this shit instead of solving actual crimes with victims

Drug gangs reaching out into other forms of violence

low-level offenders go into prison, get out, can't find work, turn to more serious crime.

etc.

There's a multitude of books you can read on this shit

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u/AKAdelta Oct 10 '21

The American dream died for many people in 1971.

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u/rathat Oct 10 '21 edited Oct 10 '21

https://wtfhappenedin1971.com/

Why the downvotes? This is the most relevant thing I can post.

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u/AKAdelta Oct 10 '21

I didn’t downvote but that website is just a Bitcoin maximalist’s fantasy. It doesn’t even include anything about LBJ’s inflationary monetary policy or Nixon’s formal ending of the Breton Woods system of convertibility of the US dollar into gold.

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u/disdkatster Oct 10 '21

'War on Drugs' began 1971. It was actually a war against POC and war protestors.

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u/Inappropriate50 Oct 10 '21

But don't Americans pat themselves on the back about being the land of the free? Like every minute, 6 Americans are talking about it?

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u/ElderberryFit439 Oct 10 '21

Crimes with fines should be a percentage of one’s wealth.

(I’m well aware that implementation is harder than it sounds, and there will be people finding loopholes, but as it stands the poor are often forced to settle and take plea deals, despite being innocent, simply because they can’t afford to fight the system, often over a few hundred dollars)

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u/StamatopoulosMichael Oct 10 '21

They aren't? It's not that hard, our system in Germany is that you get fined your daily income multiplied by a number that represents your punishment. So if you get fined 30 days, you lose a month of income.

If your accumulated wealth drastically differs from your income, the judge is free to adjust accordingly.

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u/chinablue30 Oct 10 '21

So what happens if someone is homeless or non working?

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u/sunshades91 Oct 10 '21

The backlash of the Civil rights movement made republicans get creative to find new ways to disenfeanchise black people and thus the war on drugs was born and this is the result.

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u/EasyWhiteChocolate1 Oct 10 '21

You're exactly right. This is on the back-end of desegration and the "whitelash" that followed.

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u/Joemarais Oct 10 '21

Ah yes. The US is the land of freedom. Ignore that 1 in 100 males are living their best life in prison here.

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u/Zithero Oct 10 '21

For those confused...

the 1970 Controlled Substances Act (CSA) was enacted in 1971, kicking off the "War on Drugs" - this was redoubled when Reagan pushed that we were experiencing a cocaine epidemic.

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u/Zeno_The_Alien Oct 10 '21

Some interesting correlations that show how the war on drugs is a class war. I basically just took your graph and mashed it up with this one, and added some timeline markers.

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u/dbadefense1990 Oct 10 '21

The Southern Strategy, Reagan Revolution, and 3-Strikes working well here.

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