Monday, April 7, 2008

One in a hundred

If you had asked me what nation of the world had the greatest number of its civilians incarcerated, I would have immediately guessed China. I would have guessed China partly because of its vast population and partly because of its totalitarian government. I would have guessed wrong.

The most recent statistics show that one percent of Americans are in either in a county jail, a state prison or a federal penetentiary. That means that one out of every one hundred of us is behind bars. That doesn't even begin to cover all of us that are on probation or parole or are awaiting a trial.

Whether you count the number of incarcerated Americans as a discrete number or as a percentage of population, the U.S. is ahead of every other nation of the world. It's not even close.

There is something very wrong here.


Electric Monk said...

You'd think that a country that considers itself to be the most advanced culture on Earth would've found a more effective way of treating crime than putting people in cages. I mean, how effective can it be if you're having to do it with 1% of all the people?

Then again, while China's punitive system might be effective, you could hardly argue that it's the best...

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