Our growing prison population, and whether there’s a link to the dropping crime rate:

The accelerating rate of incarceration over the past few decades is just as startling as the number of people jailed: in 1980, there were about two hundred and twenty people incarcerated for every hundred thousand Americans; by 2010, the number had more than tripled, to seven hundred and thirty-one. No other country even approaches that. In the past two decades, the money that states spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education. Ours is, bottom to top, a ‘carceral state,’ in the flat verdict of Conrad Black, the former conservative press lord and newly minted reformer, who right now finds himself imprisoned in Florida, thereby adding a new twist to an old joke: A conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged; a liberal is a conservative who’s been indicted; and a passionate prison reformer is a conservative who’s in one.

“The Caging of America.” — Adam Gopnik, New Yorker

See also: “A Boom Behind Bars: Private Jail Operators Profit from Illegal Immigrant Crackdown.” — Graeme Wood, Bloomber Businessweek, March 19, 2011