The prison industry in the US has lobbied long and hard for longer and harsher sentences for more and more crimes, and it is paying off well for them. For the first time in the US, one in a hundred is in a prison, according to a new PEW report.
This is easily the highest incarceration rate in the world, with China a somewhat distant second. The rate is more than ten times higher than in my home country of Norway, and the US has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s incarcerated population.
Maybe the most disconcerting information is in the details, from this New York Times article:
- 1 of 36 Latinos are in prison.
- 1 of 15 black men are in prison.
- 1 of 9 black men between 20 and 34 are in prison.
Equally disconcerting is how the strategies of the prison industry align so well with the mindless opinions around punishment among mainstream Americans, and how they also fuel and guide these mainstream opinions. A people gets the politicians, and the policies, they deserve, as this is just another example of.
As with the health care system in the US, the prison industry is expensive, inefficient, and made possible by an uninformed public.