As many gather around our Nation on the National Day of Prayer to pray for the issues that our Country is facing, I would like to point out some jarring facts and statistics about our prison system. Our prison system is in dire need of a fundamental transformation, maybe even more than most realize. So please use these facts and statistics as you pray for the prisons in our Nation this week.
One news source has reported: “Today, like any other day, there are around 2.4 million people incarcerated in America’s federal, state and local prisons and jails. Together, the nation’s inmates would constitute the fourth biggest city in the United States, knocking Houston down a notch. Expand that grouping to everyone under correctional control, including probation and parole, and you’d have a metropolis of nearly 7 million, second only to New York. Finally, reunite the number of people that see the inside of a jail cell in a given year, and you’d have a prison city with a population as big as New York and Los Angeles combined (11.6 million).”
Also when you stack these numbers globally, the U.S. has the largest incarceration system in the world. It has one-fourth of the world’s prisoner population despite having only 5% of its entire population.
According to Vera Institute of Justice’s 2012 “Price of Prisons” report and 2012 U.S. Census data on public school costs, shows that prisons cost us five times more than educating students in most states. Research also shows that over two thirds of people who leave prison will return and that in 17 states, prisons are filled beyond capacity.
We desperately need prison reform but even more then that we as Christians need to step up and become intentional in reaching those that are incarcerated. Please join me in praying for our Nations prison system this week!