A Nation of Prisoners

by alphamonkey on April 24, 2008 · 2 comments

in Uncategorized

US: A Nation of PrisonersThe United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.

That sentence alone is enough to make me pause, but reading through the New York Times’ latest report in their series on the American criminal justice system is a pretty sobering read.

All in all it’s certainly a fascinating article (and definitely worth your time).

Read Inmate Count in U.S. Dwarfs Other Nations’

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  • Recycled Miffery

    Thing we could learn from other countries: more cheaply “incarcerate” drug addicts by entering them into treatment programs and halfway houses.

    Thing other countries could learn from us: incarceration decreases the crime rate and the punishment of financial crimes (like check kiting) contributes to economic development and confidence.

    There are major challenges to conducting sound “international” studies, is that reportage varies wildly, variables (such as government corruption – i.e. just because Burma has fewer people in jail doesn’t mean their society is better off with black market profiteers running free) can’t be accounted for, and apples really aren’t oranges.

    A better comparison is to look at U.S. states with high and low incarceration rates, particularly on drug use crimes (not drug-related crimes). That’s a comparative study that could benefit lawmakers in the future when determining the best approach to reducing both crime and incarceration.

  • http://www.dadsbigplan.com .alphamonkey.

    I think the point regarding the high level of politicization of the judicial process is worth noting, along with a decidedly Puritan mindset when it comes to crime and punishment. I think that leads to the short-term solution of harsher sentences and allows us to feel safer without having to really look at the root causes.

    An important aspect that gets overlooked in the article is whether longer incarceration times have any impact whatsoever upon recidivism. One would imagine that lowering (if not eliminating) recidivism is the ultimate goal of the criminal justice system, but as you point out our efforts in that regard fall sadly short of any real progress.

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