What country leads the pack in locking up prisoners?

January 1, 2008 | By | 5 Replies More

The United States. Here are some shocking details from Nomi Prins of Alternet:

The United States has more inmates and a higher incarceration rate than any other nation: more than Russia, South Africa, Mexico, Iran, India, Australia, Brazil and Canada combined. Nearly 1 in every 136 US residents is in jail or prison. That’s 2.2 million people, an amount that quadrupled from 1980 to 2005. (There were only 340,000 people incarcerated in 1972.) Adding in figures for those on probation or parole, the number reaches 7.1 million.

Over the next five years, the American prison population is projected to increase three times more quickly than our resident population. The Federal Prison system is growing at 4% per year with 55% of federal prisoners serving time for drug offenses, and only 11% for violent crimes. Women are more likely than men (29% to 19%) to serve drug sentences, dismantling thousands of families. One-third of prisoners are first time, non-violent offenders. Three-quarters are non-violent offenders with no history of violence.

For one of the main causes, consider these additional stories and statistics regarding the allegedĀ “War on Drugs.”

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Category: Law, law and order, War

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (5)

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  1. Skblllzzzz says:

    Is the "War on Drugs" basically a war on Americans?

  2. grumpypilgrim says:

    "Is the “War on Drugs” basically a war on Americans?"

    Not exactly. It is basically a war on *African-Americans*. As an example, mandatory sentences for crack cocaine are often about ten times longer than mandatory sentences for powdered cocaine — the former being a drug abused primarily by African-Americans, while the latter being a drug abused primarily by Caucasians.

    The real problem, of course, is mandatory sentencing. When politicians eager to build a reputation for being "tough on drugs" pass laws that bind the hands of judges who actually face the real problem of drug addicts, injustice almost inevitably follows.

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    The way I see it, the "War on Drugs" is basically a war on poorer Americans. I base this on the fact that there are now legal versions of most street drugs, freely available to those with insurance (i.e., jobs). http://dangerousintersection.org/?p=1742

  4. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    The "War on Drugs" could also be due to the fact that the Pharmaceutical industry can't stand the competition. The big drug makes spend a lot of money to push.. I mean market mood altering drugs on the public. As long as you go down to you local Dr Feelgood and not the corner CandyMan, they are okay with it. However a major problem is the abuse of prescription drugs and that is played down in the media. ( Perhaps because of all those commercial ads)

    The war on drugs is actually little more than lipservice to the public interests. The only way to reduce the drug abuse, is to take the profit out of the recreational drug market.

  5. grumpypilgrim says:

    Erich & Niklaus make an outstanding point — drug abuse crosses all socio-economic boundaries, but incarceration for the disease does not.

    Likewise, alcohol abuse — namely drunk driving — likely kills a whole lot more people than does drug abuse, yet how many times have we heard of a drunk driver on his seventh, eighth, nineth, etc., conviction? Why aren't the penalties for drunk driving tougher and why don't more drunk drivers go to jail? Maybe because so many legislators realize they are far more likely to encounter that problem themselves.

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