On politifact:

In recent years, elected officials, criminologists and others have examined ways to decrease the number of people sitting in U.S. prisons. For some officials, it’s a matter of money. In the post-Great Recession world, some lawmakers are looking for less costly ways to deal with nonviolent offenders. Other leaders, for different reasons, are concerned about how many people are in prison. U.S. Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights icon and veteran Atlanta congressman, recently co-wrote an op-ed about the “presumption of guilt” he believes the criminal justice system institutionally holds toward African-Americans. The op-ed included some complaints about the prison system. “The violent crime rate in America is the same as it was in 1968, yet our prison system has grown by over 500 percent,” wrote Lewis, a Democrat, and Bryan Stevenson, who teaches law at New York University. PolitiFact Georgia wanted to find out whether this claim was accurate. Is the crime rate the same as it was 45 years ago and has the nation’s prison system grown by 500 percent? [Rest.]