Monday, February 13, 2012

Slammer Society

Why are so many Americans in prison?

"The US has the highest prison population in the world - some of whom have been subjected to lengthy sentences for relatively minor crimes. And that population has surged over the past three decades.

Although there has been a slight reduction in the past year, more than two million people are either incarcerated in prison or in jail awaiting trial.

The US has the highest rate of imprisonment in the world, with 743 people incarcerated for every 100,000 Americans. No other nation even comes close to these figures.

One explanation for the boom in the prison population is the mandatory sentencing imposed for drug offences and the "tough on crime" attitude that has prevailed since the 1980s.

But it is the length of sentences that truly distinguishes US prison policy. Some prisoners are locked up for life - literally - and many receive harsh sentences for non-violent crime.

These long sentences are leading to an ageing prison population - with eight per cent of prisoners now over the age of 55. This, in turn, is increasing the burden of providing healthcare and geriatric services.

Furthermore, nearly 40 per cent of the US prison population is African-American, despite the fact that blacks make up only 12 per cent of the national population.

A black male is seven times more likely to be imprisoned than a white male.

Mental health issues and drug addiction are also common and, in California alone, it is believed that around 50 per cent of inmates need mental health treatment."

As usual Al Jazeera doesn't go far enough. There are a myriad number of reasons that could have been cited rather than just statistics.
Slave labor economics.
Protecting privatized jails by making sure there's an abundance of inmates for profit.
Furthering the gulag police state.
Crushing dissent. This one should be explored by everyone because just about everything you do now is so-called illegal. Our overlords only have to not like you or what you're doing and you're disappeared forever in the penal system.
Got that yet? America, the supposed land of the free has the highest prison population in the world, an award formerly held by despotic autocratic countries.
So what does that make us these days?


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