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America's prison population explode over the course of 34 years in this stunning GIF

AUGUST 1, 2014
This 45-second GIF might help explain why Republicans like Sen. Mike Lee and Reps. Raul Labrador and Paul Ryan are on board with prison sentencing reform.

Prison populations have soared in recent decades.

Here's a chart detailing the dramatic upswing in federal prison incarceration rates between 1978 and 2011
As the chart below shows, prison populations were relatively stable from the 1920s until the 1970s. The rise in imprisonment that accompanied tough-on-crime rhetoric and the War on Drugs is without precedent in our history.

GIF animation and many charts: http://washingtonexaminer.com/article/2551564

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Private Prisons

The reason why prison populations have increased is due to the fact that prisons are now mostly privatized. They are run as a business. Much like hotels and hospitals, the more beds that are occupied, the more money is made. It is in the best interest for a prison business to remain full and therefore lucrative. The ways and means these prisons are kept at max capacity can be left up to your imagination.