Live Free or Be Imprisoned

TV Arts

WQ
Charlie Gibbons on ABC just reported that Uncle Sam achieved another
dubious distinction.  For the first time ever, 1 out of 99 adult
Americans are currently in prison.  Of that, 36 are Hispanic and 15
are Black, meaning that the remaining half of the prison population
are good ol' white boys.  The 2.3 million total is worse than China's
and Russia's totals, almost equaling those two combined, and
percentage-wise to those not in prison even worse still.  I figured I
can't just rely on Charlie and ABC for this, can I?  So a quick web
search produced this from Reuters:

http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSN2862169320080228

By James Vicini

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States incarcerates more people than
any other country in the world and for the first time in the nation's
history, more than one in every 100 American adults is confined in a
prison or jail, according to a report released on Thursday.

The report by the Pew Center on the States said the American penal
system held more than 2.3 million adults at the start of the year.

The far more populous nation of China ranked second with 1.5 million
behind bars, with Russia a distant third with 890,000 inmates.

"Beyond the sheer number of inmates, America also is the global leader
in the rate at which it incarcerates its citizenry, outpacing nations
like South Africa and Iran," according to the report.

Tough sentencing laws, record numbers of drug offenders and high crime
rates have contributed to the United States having the largest prison
population and the highest rate of incarceration in the world,
criminal justice experts say.

The latest report tracked similar findings on the U.S. prison
population by the Justice Department and various private groups. A
report in November by a criminal justice research group found the
number of people in U.S. prison had risen eight-fold since 1970.

The new report said that the national prison population has nearly
tripled between 1987 and 2007.

"The number of people behind bars in the United States continued to
climb in 2007, saddling cash-strapped states with soaring costs they
can ill afford and failing to have a clear impact either on recidivism
or overall crime," it said.

States last year spent more than $44 billion on corrections, the
report said, compared with $10.6 billion in 1987, the report said,
adding that the rate of increase for prison costs was six times
greater than for higher education spending.

The report said the current prison growth has not been driven mainly
by a parallel increase in crime or a corresponding surge in the
nation's population.

"Rather, it flows principally from a wave of policy choices that are
sending more lawbreakers to prison and, through the popular 'three-
strikes' measures and other sentencing enhancements, keeping them
there longer," it said.

The report said some states, such as Texas and Kansas, have acted to
slow their prison population growth, with greater use of community
supervision for lower-risk offenders and sanctions other than prison
for minor probation and parole violations, such as missing a
counseling session.
                                            
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[email protected] (WQ) 
Charlie Gibbons on ABC just reported that Uncle Sam achieved another
dubious distinction. For the first time ever, 1 out of 99 adult
Americans are currently in prison. The 2.3 million total is worse than
China's and Russia's totals, almost equaling those two combined...

"The number of people behind bars in the United States continued to
climb in 2007, saddling cash-strapped states with soaring costs they can
ill afford and failing to have a clear impact either on recidivism or
overall crime," it said. States last year spent more than $44 billion on
corrections, the report said, compared with $10.6 billion in 1987, the
report said, adding that the rate of increase for prison costs was six
times greater than for higher education spending." 

what's all this talk about 'family values' and 'democracy to the world'?
I mean, who'd really want America's idealistic view of life and freedom
if the drawback is that your chances of ending up in prison are tenfold
or more better than in China or Russia or anywhere else? Seems the
government with its laws likes to ensure that Americans fear each other
just as much as the rest of the world and that the quick- fix, feel-good
solution is to just lock 'em up.