The nation’s high imprisonment rate is likely to continue even as the number of executions is declining, says criminologist Franklin Zimring of the University of California at Berkeley. Most Americans seemingly do not mind spending $60 billion annually on the prison and jail system, Zimring told the World Congress of Criminology yesterday in Philadelphia. The congress is hosted this year by the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania.
More than 2 million people are behind bars in the United States. Current imprisonment rates “will persist” at least at 75 percent of that total “as far as the eye can see,” Zimring says. At the time time, he argues that the “endgame has begun” on capital punishment. Zimring believes that the U.S. is feeling increasingly isolated among major nations on the subject, with Japan the only other developed country that performs executions. The congress coninues through Thursday, with plenary sessions on subjects including school violence and “prisons in transition.” Delegates from around the world are visiting Pennsylvania’s Graterford Prison today.