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a legal scholar once quipped that the limits to prison population are not absolute, but “like the elastic on underwear: slightly more uncomfortable with each expansion.” That assessment, made when America housed 60 percent fewer prisoners, now seems optimistic. In 2006, federal prisons were 37 percent over capacity while some state systems bulged with more than double their intended numbers. Packing in too many inmates can spread disease and spur violence and suicide. The dangers are hardly a new revelation. One of the main gripes of inmates who rioted at Attica in 1971, leaving 43 people dead: The prison was 40 percent overbooked.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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