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Research the System
How many people are currently serving time in jail or prison in the United States?*

More than 2 million people are currently behind bars in America. The combined populations of the California, Texas and federal prison systems accounted for more than a third of the entire prison population in late 2000.

* Sources: CNN.com article, "Rate of Growth of U.S. Prison Population Slows," Aug. 10, 2000; in addition to U.S. Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics

How does San Francisco County [featured in Presumed Guilty] compare with the rest of the state of California?
  1. In 1999, San Francisco County contributed 1.3 percent of the statewide felon population, while the nine-county Bay Area contributed 12.7 percent to the total statewide felon population. The county of Los Angeles contributed more than 33 percent (more than a third) of the state's felon population.

  2. The incarceration rate of San Francisco County for felonies is half that of the state -- 89 people per 100,000 versus 191 people per 100,000.
How much faith do Americans have in the justice system? Do opinions vary depending upon race, gender and location?*

Attitudes by Gender:
-- When asked how much confidence they have in the U.S. criminal justice system, 28 percent of men reported a great deal of confidence, 38 percent some confidence and 32 percent very little confidence. In comparison, 21 percent of women felt a great deal of confidence in the criminal justice system, 45 percent some confidence and 28 percent very little confidence.

Attitudes by Race:
-- 25 percent of White respondents expressed a great deal of confidence in our justice system, 42 percent some confidence and 29 percent very little confidence. By comparison, 18 percent of Black respondents reported a great deal of confidence, 43 percent some confidence and 28 percent very little confidence.

Attitudes by Region:
-- More respondents in the Midwest had "very little" confidence in our criminal justice system than respondents on the East Coast: 35 percent and 27 percent, respectively. By comparison, 28 percent of respondents in the South expressed a "great deal" of confidence in our justice, whereas just 20 percent of respondents in the West shared a similar sentiment.

* Sources: Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000; "Public Attitudes Toward Uses of Criminal History Information," in addition to U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics


Did you know that the widespread use of public defenders for accused individuals who cannot afford legal counsel is a relatively new feature of our criminal justice system?

It was secured through a decision ruling by the Supreme Court on Gideon v. Wainwright in 1963.

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