QUESTION: Dangerous prisoners

question / pregunta: 

I am taking a class in Criminal Justice and Christian Theology, and it has raised a question for me. As we discussed the question of reforming the current prison system vs. abolishing it and starting over, several class members asked "if we shut down the prisons, what would we do with all the Charles Mansons?" I am wondering how many prisoners we are really talking about. I have heard their are about 2,300,000 people in prison in the US (as of 2005). Is there any list that tells how many of those would fall into that category of prisoner that even the most liberal persons would not want out wandering the streets?


These Quick Facts from the Bureau of Prisons might give you a starting place for looking at data about federal prisoners. As you can see, a majority of the offenses are related to drugs, weapons, or immigration. I am not sure how exactly you would go about extrapolating from these numbers exactly who the most seriously violent criminals are, but it will at least give you a starting point, and other Radical Reference volunteers may suggest additional resources.