Find out how much more Texas spends on incarceration than on education, the disproportionate impact on African Americans, and how many prisoners in Texas jails have never even been convicted of the crime they are held for!
Take the quiz to test your knowledge. Then, as you go through the answers, find out what the ACLU of Texas is doing to lower incarceration rates in our great state.
1. The United States has about 5% of the world’s population and holds what percentage of the world’s prisoners?
- a. 10%
c. 25%-That’s right. The “land of the free” has the highest incarceration rate in the world.
2. Texas has 94 university campuses. How many state prisons are there in Texas (not counting jails, federal lockups, and juvenile facilities)?
- a. 70
c. 114-With more buildings to lock people up than to educate people, Texas must change its priorities. Ensuring that our children have a good education is one of the best ways to keep them out of the criminal justice system. Between 1980 and 2000 the ratio of growth in Texas corrections to higher education spending was 7:1.
3. True or False: Texas’ incarceration rate is more than 2.5 times higher than the rate of Iran’s.
- a. True –In this country, we value human rights and we have fought wars over freedom. Unfortunately we still put more people behind bars than any other country in the world. In Texas alone, more than 700,000 people are under criminal justice supervision.
4. Did you know that more than half of the people in Texas prisons are parents? Studies have shown that children who have a parent in jail are ___ times more likely to commit a crime themselves.
- a. 2
c. 5- Children who have a parent in jail are negatively affected both emotionally and economically. These children are 5 times more likely to end up committing a crime later in life. Also, when a parent is in jail, they are unable to pay child support. Parents who are currently in Texas prisons owe a whopping $2.5 billion in unpaid child support to children who live in Texas. Probation programs for non-violent offenders would allow parents to continue to work and to care for their families.
5. Texas’ annual corrections budget is roughly $3 billion and it costs $40-50 dollars to keep somebody behind bars per day. What does it cost to keep somebody on probation for a day?
- a. $2
Smart-on-crime approaches, like probation, make more fiscal sense, better protect our communities, and allow non-violent offenders to continue working, supporting their families, and contributing to their communities.
- b. $5
6. On average, what is the percentage of prisoners in Texas who are awaiting trial (i.e., have not been convicted of the crime for which they are being held)?
- a. 10%
c. 62% – Yes, you read that correctly. Most of the prisoners in Texas are sitting behind bars having never been convicted of the crime they are held for. Many of these prisoners simply cannot afford bail before a trial. As they await trial, they lose their jobs, are separated from their families, and suffer the stigma of having been sent to jail. All this – before being found guilty or innocent.
7. True or False: Eight out of nine regional narcotic task forces in Texas search African Americans for drugs more often than they search whites, while seven out of nine task forces search Latinos more often than they search whites.
- a. True-Our criminal justice system is not color blind. It disproportionally targets people of color. Texas can do better, and it’s time we demand change.
8. African Americans make up 12% of Texas’ population. Approximately what percentage of Texas prisoners are African American?
- a. 15%
c. 44%-Although crime rates among different races are not that different, people of color are targeted, arrested, and convicted at higher rates.
9. Since 1980, the rate of drug offenders in prison and jails has in the US has…
- a. Been fairly constant
c. Tripled-The cost to Texas for imprisoning drug possessors is more than $300 million a year. Throwing people behind bars is a huge money maker for the for-profit prison industry, and the private prison industry has lobbied hard to pass harsher laws that increase incarceration rates for non-violent drug offenses.
10. True or False: Without providing treatment programs, imprisoning a drug user does not decrease drug use.
- a. True-People addicted to drugs need treatment, not imprisonment. Drug abuse is a public health problem, and can’t be solved by the criminal justice system.
Interested in reforming Texas’ criminal law system? Sign up for the ACLU of Texas Community Action Network to make a difference!