Recently, much has been written about the "prison industrial complex". Throughout the US, prison populations--and budgets--have exploded. It's hard not to notice that as the number of prisoners increases, the percentage of them who are members of groups--racial, ethnic, sexual and otherwise--that experience discrimination increases even more dramatically. It's also hard not to notice that these phenomena are also tied to the increasing privatization of the incarceration business.
Discussion of these phenomena have been fueled by research that indicates, among other things, that there is little or no correlation between the number of people a state incarcerates and its crime rate. Budgets and rates of incarceration increase even when crime rates drop and the drop cannot be correlated to a previous increase in prison budgets and populations.
This fact is seen most clearly when we look, as the American Civil Liberties Union did, at the states of New York and Indiana: