I’m just a font of good news today. According to this happy news article the United States has the highest prison population in the world with a record setting total of 2 million people behind bars! That comes out to a whopping 702 prisoners per 100,000 population where as Russia now has 665 prisoners per 100,000.
More than Russia? Former totalitarian country? Home of the KGB and the iron fist? Ain’t that a kick in the pants?
Wait, it gets better:
Bruce Western, a sociologist at Princeton University, says sentencing policies have had a glaringly disproportionate impact on black men. The Justice Department reports that one in eight black men in their 20s and early 30s were behind bars last year, compared with 1 in 63 white men. The chance of a black man going to prison in his lifetime is one in three, the department says.
For black male high school dropouts, Western says, the numbers are still worse: 41 percent of black dropouts between 22 and 30 were locked up in 1999. “I think this is one of the most important developments in race relations in the last 30 years,” he says.
Anyone who tries to tell you racism is near-extinct in this country obviously doesn’t pay much attention to the courts it would seem.
A major cause is the war on drugs. In 1980, says Marc Mauer, assistant director of the Sentencing Project in Washington, about 40,000 Americans were locked up for drugs-only offenses. Now the number is 450,000, three-fourths of them black or Latino, though drug use is no higher in those groups than among whites.
Ah yes! The wisdom of “do a drug, go to jail” is coming back to bite us in the ass. Though it appears it’s biting whites at a significantly reduced rate compared to blacks and latinos. Welcome to the land of equal opportunity just so long as you’re white! Or at the very least, rich! Being white and rich pretty much gives you free reign as long as you don’t piss off too many other white, rich guys.