Posted on April 8, 2021

Tom Cotton: US Has ‘Major Under-Incarceration Problem’

Carly Roman, Washington Examiner, April 6, 2021

Sen. Tom Cotton claims the United States is not jailing enough people as experts see an increase in crime paired with a drop in incarceration rates.


“We have a major under-incarceration problem in America. And it’s only getting worse,” Cotton tweeted on Tuesday.

The CNN article accompanying the tweet cited a report from the Major Cities Chiefs Association revealing major metropolises throughout the nation saw a 33% increase in homicides, and 63 of the 66 largest police jurisdictions suffered increases in at least one category of violent crimes in 2020.

Cotton’s comments attracted swift backlash on Twitter, with many users arguing that Cotton, Trump, or other members of the GOP deserved prison sentences for various alleged crimes.

The most recently available data suggest rates of imprisonment are falling. The combined state and federal imprisonment rate of 419 sentenced prisoners per 100,000 U.S. residents in 2019 was the lowest imprisonment rate since 1995, the Bureau of Justice Statistics announced in October 2020. Across the decade from 2009 to 2019, the imprisonment rate fell 29% among black residents, 24% among Hispanic residents, and 12% among white residents, and in 2019, the imprisonment rate of black residents reached its lowest level since 1989.

The U.S. criminal justice system holds almost 2.3 million people in 1,833 state prisons, 110 federal prisons, 1,772 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,134 local jails, 218 immigration detention facilities, and 80 Indian Country jails, as well as in military prisons, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories {snip}