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The Tricky Business of Measuring Crime and Punishment

This article explores a new "punitiveness" statistic released by the Pew Charitable Trust that measures the amount of punishments states throughout America impose on the incarcerated. This statistic can be compared with rates of recidivism to test Luther's claim that it is essential to punish sin with the sword.

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One of the most widely cited figures in criminal justice is America’s incarceration rate. About 2.2 million people were in our prisons and jails in 2014, or 900 for every 100,000 adults in the country, the highest of any major country on earth.

For years, criminal justice wonks (including here at The Marshall Project) have yearned for metrics that would tell us more: Are we locking up the truly dangerous criminals? Is the system working? How is California doing relative to Texas or Pennsylvania? Read more...