U.S. has highest incarceration rate of any country in the world.

This news item is both stunning and sad:

wcbstv.com – Report: 1 In Every 99 Americans Now Behind Bars

For the first time in history, more than one in every 100 American adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report tracking the surge in inmate population.

The report, released Thursday by the Pew Center on the States, said the 50 states spent more than $49 billion on corrections last year, up from less than $11 billion 20 years earlier. The rate of increase for prison costs was six times greater than for higher education spending, the report said.

Using updated state-by-state data, the report said 2,319,258 adults were held in U.S. prisons or jails at the start of 2008—one out of every 99.1 adults, and more than any other country in the world.

By contrast, in mid 2002 the ratio was 1 in 142, with the prison population surpassing 2 million for the first time.

Land of the free my ass. Not only are we locking a lot of people that probably don’t need to be, but we’re overwhelming state budgets with all the costs of doing so. Part of the reason is due to the popularity of zero tolerance and three strikes laws that were put on the books over the years, particularly for non-violent drug users. And, as usual, there’s a big racial discrepancy as well:

“For some groups, the incarceration numbers are especially startling,” the report said. “While one in 30 men between the ages of 20 and 34 is behind bars, for black males in that age group the figure is one in nine.”

Prison reform is something none of the candidates are talking about, but they should be. This is something that needs to be dealt sooner rather than later.

16 thoughts on “U.S. has highest incarceration rate of any country in the world.

  1. What’s even more fun about the way we do things is that all of those people are mostly not able to vote afterwards. The people most likely to voice complaint or criticism have been silenced.

  2. The only way to make money this this country is to stick your hand in the next guy’s pocket.  Decriminalization of non-victim offenses would put most of the people in this country out of work.

  3. Signature
    Beware the beast man, for he is the Devil’s pawn. Alone among God’s primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother’s land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him, for he is the harbinger of death.

    I didn’t know you were in Planet of the Apes Moloch.

  4. Sometimes I wonder if Moloch reads that signature closely?

    On the topic of this post, I think it was Kucinich that said “We are the only industrialized country that treats addictions as a criminal offense.” And I agree with him when I say it’s despicable.

  5. Moloch- I know that last time you were in county lock-up, you weren’t there long enough to get your usual feast of cock, but that’s no reason to be all bitter.  If you could just drop the pathetic superiority complex, next time you could get your little buns buttered just the way you like.

    To the point-plain old sickening.  We could save billions of dollars and thousands of lives by going back to a more libertarian attitude toward personal freedom.  Decriminalizing drugs would solve a big chunk of this problem, but then the republicans would be one boogeyman short and the prison pigs wouldn’t be able to keep their wages artificially inflated.  There will always be worthless little shits like Moloch who simply get their kicks from other people’s suffering; just like a real criminal, except with no balls.  But why should they be dictating policy? 
    I know many people, especially of the older generations, who think that pretty much anything you wouldn’t do at Sunday School in front of 6-year-olds should be illegal, and harshly punished.  Most of these people are old, stubborn, and will never open their minds, but who cares?  This country wasn’t made great by forcing people to act like dried up, blue-haired grannies, but by people ignoring useless, fossilized sentiments masquerading as morality. 

    Helped by decades of intentional misinformation and media scare mongering, people in this country have got this wrong, scary, and very Anti-American idea into their heads: the idea that what a person does with their body, house or property is automatically anybody else’s business.  Example: Most over-40 people I know think that using marijuana is somehow dangerous, and should be illegal.  I have never heard ONE good defense for this postion.  Not one logical argument or set of fact-based reasons, just “law & order” hot air and emotion-based pleas built on lies and “save the children” rhetoric.  It is simply the emotional reaction of people who have been suckered by the lies and manipulations of so-called “conservatives,” but who will never be mature enough to admit it or consider that they might be wrong.  I have known dozens of variations on the uber-conservative personality that is continually obsessed with “law and order” (read: other people’s private business.)  I have never met one who was really anything more than a scared, spoiled and selfish child on the inside.

    I realize that there has never been some magical golden age when all citizens, politicians, cops, judges and lawyers really did care about justice, upholding the constitution, and preserving freedom.  But the attitude of both legal professionals and the general public these days is disgustingly complacent, and the results will have an effect on society and our character, just as it has already destroyed many a liberty and many a life.  How long can anyone live free in a country where one of the favorite forms of entertainment is putting people in cages?

  6. It isn’t the drugs that put them in prison.  Its the crimes to support the habit, or the crimes committed under the influence.

    Most over-40 people I know think that using marijuana is somehow dangerous

    Most over 40s associate marijuana with hippy 60s.  The modern strains- ‘skunk’- are much higher in elements that cause mental illness, and there is serious concern amoung health professionals about it’s potency.  There are a number of research papers coming out now that support the evidence, though this is ongoing work.

    Though many people are able to function normally within a recreation drug usage lifestyle, those with a predispostion to mental illness are more at danger at triggering dangerous psychological illnesses.

    If you want to empty the prisons you have to tackle the causes of crime.  A very high proportion of prisoners (in the UK at least) are identified with various learning difficulties and educational problems.  Some 18-21 year olds require the sort of approach used with remedial 8 year old readers.  Often these problems are unidentified until prison.  They are unskilled, so are competing for the lowest paid jobs that anyone can do, so there is greater competition.  Crime is a way to supplement low income or state benfits.

  7. In Cook County, our jail is so crowded it’s actually fairly difficult to get a prison sentence for possession of small amounts of illegal drugs.  Dealers with larger amounts are much more likely to lose probable cause hearings and go to trial.  Addicts tend to get locked up for things like burglary, shoplifting, etc.

    I’m in favor of legalization of marijuana similar to tobacco (alcohol seems to cause far more societal problems), and we should have more drug treatment programs for addicts of harder drugs, as studies show reduced costs over time relative to prison.

  8. Moloch- I know that last time you were in county lock-up, you weren’t there long enough to get your usual feast of cock, but that’s no reason to be all bitter.  If you could just drop the pathetic superiority complex, next time you could get your little buns buttered just the way you like.

    Actually I take pride in the fact that I have never had anything more serious than a traffic ticket.

  9. Correction, the USA has the Highest of first world nations. Not that that’s any better.

  10. I’m all for legalizing all recreational drug use. It should be clear after all this time that people are going to use drugs regardless of the penalties associated with it. The solution is education, not incarceration. Tobacco and alcohol are two of the worst drugs around in both their addictive qualities and number of deaths yet both are legal. We learned our lesson on prohibition of alcohol, but apparently we’ve not figured out that we should apply that lesson elsewhere.

  11. Naw, we figured it out. It just makes more money for the crooks (read: politicians). LOL

  12. The people who support these tyrannical levels of incarceration are cowards who need a government tit to suck on. And they don’t care at all about the innocent people who get trampled so long as they get the result they want in whatever sobfest is currently playing on Court TV. It’s ridiculous.

    This country would make Thomas Jefferson puke.

  13. You missed something in this.  That is 1 in 99 in prison.  Take the sum of a persons life time and it is something like 1 in 30 will be in jail/prison with that number rising. 

    Basically, we are probably sitting at 1 in 20.

    Yes, America has truly become a sad country.

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