One-in-100 Americans Behind Bars


According to a new report just released by the Pew Center on the States, "at the start of 2008, 2,319,258 adults were held in American prisons or jails, or one in every 99.1 men and women."  Bringing these numbers down to earth, "For the first time in history more than one in every 100 adults in America are in jail or prison."


How long before Americans wake up and recognize the true nature of the country they call home?  I mean, what else can it possibly take?  If globally destructive events such as U.S. wars and military bases and expenditures on military account aren’t enough to shake you, then how about the fact that you live in the most heavily incarcerated country on earth?  How difficult can it really be to connect the dots between data such as what you’ll find reported below and perfectly obvious inferences about the sheer viciousness of U.S. society — one of which ought to be that you owe allegiance to no regime that would treat its own citizens with such criminal contempt?


"A close examination of the most recent U.S. Department of Justice data (2006) found that while one in 30 men between the ages of 20 and 34 is behind bars," Associated Press reports, "the figure is one in nine for black males in that age group." 


Yet more striking, the Toronto Gobe and Mail points out that "prison growth and higher incarceration rates do not reflect a parallel increase in crime or in the nation’s overall population.  Instead,…more people are behind bars mainly because of tough sentencing measures, such as ‘three-strikes’ laws, that result in longer prison stays."


Banish from your minds the convenient fiction that the people behind bars belong there. –


Now what?

One  in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008, Jenifer Warren et al., Pew Center on the States, February, 2008.  (Also see the accompanying Press Release, February 28, 2008.)


Also see the semi-annual reports by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (from which everyone else draws), especially (a) "Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2006;" (b) "Prisoners in 2006;" and (c) "Probation and Parole in the United States, 2006."


Finally, see the superb work by the Sentencing Projectwhere we read that "The United States is the world’s leader in incarceration with 2.1 million people currently in the nation’s prisons or jails — a 500% increase over the past thirty years." 

"Report says more than 1 in 100 Americans now behind bars, making US world incarceration leader," David Crary, Associated Press, February 28, 2008  
"One in 100 Americans in Prison: Study," Toronto Globe and Mail, February 28, 2008


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