Prison reform

Probably no surprise that I’m in favor of some reform to our prison system, how long we incarcerate and the aim of incarceration. I’m also dead set against the death penalty, but a discussion of that and other such issues will need to wait until another post.

I wanted to share a small bit I found in an article entitled, “Why Are So Many Americans in Prison?” by Glenn Loury. You can find it here.

Here’s the amazing excerpt:

According to a 2005 report of the International Centre for Prison Studies in London, the United States—with five percent of the world’s population—houses 25 percent of the world’s inmates. Our incarceration rate (714 per 100,000 residents) is almost 40 percent greater than those of our nearest competitors (the Bahamas, Belarus, and Russia). Other industrial democracies, even those with significant crime problems of their own, are much less punitive: our incarceration rate is 6.2 times that of Canada, 7.8 times that of France, and 12.3 times that of Japan. We have a corrections sector that employs more Americans than the combined work forces of General Motors, Ford, and Wal-Mart, the three largest corporate employers in the country, and we are spending some $200 billion annually on law enforcement and corrections at all levels of government, a fourfold increase (in constant dollars) over the past quarter century.

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