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A Contrast of Prison Populations Between Iraq and US


In a previous essay I wrote about the high numbers of Iraqi’s (99% are Iraqi with only 1% being foreigners) held in American detention camps.

I noted that the very chapter and article of the UN Charter (Chapter 7, Article 51) that we are violating by attacking, invading and occupying Iraq is also the same chapter and article that gives Iraqi’s the right to resist us. Which also happens to be the very right we are suppressing by detaining them in order to maintain our illegal war and occupation.

But last night another interesting fact occurred to me.

The United States of America has a population of 304,035,000 people.

Iraq has a population of 29,267,000 people.

The United States of America has (as of December 31, 2006) a prison population of 2,258,983 inmates (nearly half of which are incarcerated for non-violent crimes). That is 0.66% of the population.

Iraq has just under 51,000 being held by the Iraqi government and the foreign occupiers. That is just 0.16% of the population.

Iraq is in the middle of not only an illegal foreign occupation but is also in the middle of a civil war. Not only is the country more chaotic and violent – which may be amazing to some considering our yearly gun violence – but also their prison population is still radically lower than ours.

In April 2003 Human Rights Watch noted that:

Contrary to popular perception, violent crime is not responsible for the quadrupling of the incarcerated population in the United States since 1980. […] Nearly three quarters of new admissions to state prison were convicted of nonviolent crimes. Only 49 percent of sentences state inmates are held for violent offenses.

Ending our illegal occupation of Iraq is but one of many issues we must address. Our own prison-industrial complex that incarcerates nearly one million non-violent criminals is certainly another one.

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