Test Your Knowledge About Crime And Imprisonment In The U.S.

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Test Your Knowledge About Crime And Imprisonment In The U.S. - Quiz


The connection between imprisonment and crime rates in the United States is complex, and conventional wisdom often is at odds with the facts. Take our quiz to test your knowledge about key trends and developments across the nation and in the states.
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Questions and Answers
  • 1. 

    Which state had the nation's highest incarceration rate in 2013?

    • A.

      California

    • B.

      Texas

    • C.

      Louisiana

    • D.

      Oklahoma

    • E.

      West Virginia

    Correct Answer
    C. Louisiana
    Explanation
    C. Louisiana had the highest incarceration rate at the end of 2013, with 1,420 inmates in prisons or local jails per 100,000 residents 18 or older. The national incarceration rate in state correctional facilities and local jails was 910 per 100,000 adult residents. See Appendix Table 1 here.

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  • 2. 

    Which of the following is true about the overall U.S. incarceration rate?

    • A.

      The rate has been climbing steadily since the early 1970s.

    • B.

      The rate has been up and down over the past 40 years.

    • C.

      The rate peaked in 2008 and has been falling since.

    • D.

      The rate began to drop in the early 1990s, similar to the crime rate.

    Correct Answer
    C. The rate peaked in 2008 and has been falling since.
    Explanation
    C. The overall incarceration rate, which combines inmates held in state and federal prisons and local jails, reached 1 in 100 adult residents at year-end 2006 and stayed at that level through the end of 2008. It then fell in each of the next five years, dropping to 1 in 110 adult residents by the end of 2013. See Table 2 here.

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  • 3. 

    By what percentage did spending on the federal prison system increase from 1980 through 2013?

    • A.

      195 percent

    • B.

      295 percent

    • C.

      395 percent

    • D.

      495 percent

    • E.

      595 percent

    Correct Answer
    E. 595 percent
    Explanation
    E. Expenditures for the federal Bureau of Prisons rose from $970 million to more than $6.7 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars. Read more here.

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  • 4. 

    Which state's legislature unanimously voted in 2012 to overhaul its sentencing and corrections policies?

    • A.

      Massachusetts

    • B.

      Indiana

    • C.

      Colorado

    • D.

      Georgia

    • E.

      New Mexico

    Correct Answer
    D. Georgia
    Explanation
    D. The Georgia General Assembly passed House Bill 1176 with votes of 162-0 in the House and 51-0 in the Senate, and Governor Nathan Deal signed it into law in May 2012. Read more here.

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  • 5. 

    Which state has not passed a comprehensive package of sentencing and corrections reforms in the past few years?

    • A.

      Kentucky

    • B.

      South Carolina

    • C.

      Florida

    • D.

      North Carolina

    • E.

      Mississippi

    Correct Answer
    C. Florida
    Explanation
    C. Florida. South Carolina passed reforms in 2010, Kentucky and North Carolina in 2011, and Mississippi in 2014. Read more here.

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  • 6. 

    True or False: The decline in the crime rate from 2008 to 2013 was greater in states that reduced their imprisonment rates than in states that increased them.

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    A. True
    Explanation
    True. The crime rate fell 13 percent in states where imprisonment rates decreased, while dropping 11 percent in states where imprisonment rates increased. Read more here.

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  • 7. 

    Researchers estimate that the growth of the U.S. prison population is responsible for what percentage of the crime drop that has occurred since the early 1990s?

    • A.

      0-10 percent

    • B.

      20-30 percent

    • C.

      40-50 percent

    • D.

      60-70 percent

    Correct Answer
    B. 20-30 percent
    Explanation
    B. Leading criminologists attribute no more than 25 percent of the crime drop in the 1990s to increased incarceration. Other factors contributing to the crime decline include better policing, waning demand for crack cocaine, declining use of cash in favor of debit cards and other electronic transactions, increased private security, and improved antitheft technologies. Read more here.

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  • 8. 

    What percent of likely U.S. voters agreed with the following statement: “Juveniles should never be placed in juvenile corrections facilities for status offenses like skipping school or running away, which would not be a crime if they were an adult”?

    • A.

      25 percent

    • B.

      45 percent

    • C.

      65 percent

    • D.

      85 percent

    Correct Answer
    D. 85 percent
    Explanation
    D. Eighty-five percent of likely voters agreed with the statement in a 2014 poll conducted for Pew by the Mellman Group and Public Opinion Strategies; 73 percent of respondents strongly agreed with the statement, and the results were identical among Republicans, Democrats, and independents. Read more here.

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  • 9. 

    True or false: Inmates who serve out their full prison terms behind bars and are released without supervision in the communityknown as "maxing out"are less likely to reoffend that those who are released before the end of their terms and undergo supervision.

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    B. False
    Explanation
    False. Research shows that shorter prison terms followed by community supervision have the potential to reduce both recidivism and overall corrections costs. In New Jersey, for example, inmates released to parole supervision before their sentences expired were 36 percent less likely to return to prison—even when controlling for risk factors that reliably predict recidivism, such as an offender’s prior record—than inmates who maxed out. Read more here.

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  • 10. 

    In 1980, inmates released from federal prison had served an average of 16 months. What was the average time served by inmates released in 2013?

    • A.

      20 months

    • B.

      30 months

    • C.

      40 months

    • D.

      50 months

    Correct Answer
    C. 40 months
    Explanation
    C. The average time served was 40.1 months, largely the result of policies enacted by Congress requiring drug offenders to be sentenced to mandatory minimum prison terms. Read more here.
     



     

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