Monthly Archives: October 2016

Older adults more likely to be imprisoned, data show

By Keith Humphreys


Keith Humphreys is a psychiatry professor at Stanford University.

The U.S. imprisonment rate has been shrinking for six years, but the change has been uneven across generations. Despite criminal behavior typically peaking in young adulthood, the young rather than the old are driving the nation’s ongoing de-incarceration.

(Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics)

Over the most recent decade of state prison data analyzed by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the inmate population aged even faster than the graying U.S. general population. The imprisonment rate for people ages 55 and older bucked the broader de-incarceration trend by jumping a startling 71 percent.

Adults younger than 30 in contrast were far less likely to be imprisoned in 2013 than was the case a decade ago. If the entire population had experienced the same change, states would be shuttering empty prisons coast to coast. This good news about young American adults is paralleled in other studies showing that they are far less likely to get arrested than were young adults of prior generations.

Multiple factors account for the rising proportion of older Americans in prison. First, ever the trendsetters, baby boomers are somewhat more criminally active in late life than were previous generations. Second, the many state-level reforms designed to reduce incarceration were implemented long after the “tough on crime” era in which many older inmates were given protracted sentences. Third, older convicted criminals by definition have had more time than younger ones to accrue long criminal records, which often leads judges to mete out longer sentences for a particular offense.

Because prisons are legally responsible for providing health care to inmates, the aging of the prison population could strain their budgets despite the decline in the imprisonment rate. On the other hand, elderly, severely ill inmates pose minimal risk to public safety and thus …read more

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Inside Elizabeth Warren’s behind-the-scenes strategy for pressuring Hillary Clinton

By Ylan Q. Mui

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), right, speaks during a campaign rally for Hillary Clinton at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., on Oct. 24. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The letter Sen. Elizabeth Warren sent to the Treasury Department was 14 pages long and included four tables and 36 footnotes. It covered an obscure rule that forces severely disabled borrowers to pay taxes on student loans that have been canceled — potentially costing them thousands of dollars.

Warren argued that the agency had the power to fix the problem using its administrative authority — and urged officials to do so immediately.

“Treasury’s failure to issue guidance will harm borrowers and taxpayers,” she wrote in the letter sent this month.

Warren’s letter provides a window into a key strategy that the influential Massachusetts Democrat could deploy to drive progressive policies in a new presidential administration. Already, Warren and other liberal lawmakers have made clear that they will oppose high-level appointments with ties to Wall Street or who have supported free trade and financial deregulation. But Warren is also expected to rely on a less visible approach of pushing top officials to flex their administrative muscle.

[Liberals are preparing blacklists of appointees they want Clinton to avoid]

Such efforts could prove critical if Congress remains divided, as polls suggest is likely, but could still be subject to legal challenges. President Obama tried to circumvent gridlock on Capitol Hill by issuing executive orders intended to halt deportations of illegal immigrants who arrived as children and force power plants to reduce their carbon emissions, among others, earning the ire of Republicans who criticized the moves as an overreach of power. Both cases have been reviewed by the Supreme Court, with justices deadlocking over the former and delaying the latter …read more

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Americans have been ‘blogging’ about politics for 250 years

By Rachael Scarborough King In May 1693, ex-poet laureate John Dryden wrote to his friend and fellow poet William Walsh to gossip about life in London. While assuring Walsh “there passes nothing in the Town worth your knowing,” he noted that writer Thomas d’Urfey’s newest play “was woefull stuff, & concluded with Catcalls,” adding with a touch of glee […] …read more

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Five things I learned about Russia last week

By Daniel W. Drezner The hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts hasn’t completely recovered from the jet-lag that comes with leaving Sochi at 2:30 in the bleeping a.m. to get back to the United States. But enough brain function has returned to make some observations about what I learned from my days in Sochi at the Valdai Discussion Club: […] …read more

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