The U.S. Prison Population - By The Numbers

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It has been well documented that despite the platitudes suggesting that the United States is the beacon of freedom, it is actually the location with the most filled cages of human beings. The capital of this Gulag is currently Louisiana, where the incarceration rate is nearly triple Iran’s, seven times China’s and 10 times Germany’s. (Source)

America holds 25% of the world’s prison population and only 5% of its overall population. The number of prisoners held in private prisons has risen dramatically over the past 10 years from 2,000 housed in 5 private prisons, to more than 60,000 housed in 100. It is a number expected to rise to 360,000 prisoners over the next decade. (Source) Moreover, as the economy declines, there has even been a revival of debtors prisons, formally abolished in the early 1800s. Even more troubling is the heightened criminalization of children for behavior which previously was considered merely a nuisance, not something worthy of handcuffs and the Big House.

The U.S. prison business has become the essence of predatory corporatism: it privatizes profits and socializes losses. This combination has led to a situation where correctional facilities have very little incentive to correct behavior, but every incentive to ensure that new bodies arrive as fast as possible and keep them in a state of indentured servitude. The Infographic below dissects the world’s largest prison population, offering a stark condemnation of the “Land of the Free.”

One statistic to note is that actual violent crime and property crimes have been declining, but the prison population continues to explode. So where are all of these new “criminals” coming from?

Boston University Online Masters in Criminal Justice

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