The Numbers Behind Obama's Push For Prison ReformPresident Barack Obama made a significant push for prison reform last week in a speech to an NAACP convention. Obama said the nation's prison population had quadrupled since 1980 -- when mandatory minimums were put in place -- and had doubled in the last two decades. That costs upward of $80 billion a year, according to Obama.
■Class discussion: Why does the United States imprison more people than any other nation? With 5 percent of the world's people 25 percent of the world's prisoners, what share of U.S. inmates have been convicted of nonviolent crimes? How much more likely are minorities to be imprisoned than the whites? Who is making money from putting people in prison? Do they lobby against changing the system? Who are they giving campaign money?