There is a fascinating report done by the Pew Center regarding prison population growth trends state by state. We have reached quite a milestone in this country with 1 in 100 people now residing in prison. The report also breaks down costs per bed and which states are actually trying to pro-actively reduce their prison populations. On the west coast only California is showing a decline in prison population.
Also detailed is the comparison of public benefit versus cost to the taxpayer. Housing people for non violent crimes is becoming very expensive and counter productive.
My feeling is our tax dollars would be better reinvested in education for our youth, particularly science education than incarcerating non-violent offenders.