incarceration in the united states (statistics)

anonymous asked:

I think the higher incarceration rate may be because now we have more ways to track down criminals (cameras fingerprints) not because police are just throwing people into jail.

Noooope. But lets do some math to be sure. All the statistics I will be using are from here, here, and here.

We’ll look at race first. The united states has 693 people in prison per 100,000. However if we quickly glance at the Incarceration in the United States page, we can see the incarceration rate broken down by race. While white people are incarcerated at a rate of  450 per 100,000, Hispanic people are incarcerated at almost double the rate ( 831 per 100,000) and black people at an astoundingly high rate of  2,306 per 100,000. So lets consider a hypothetical prison system that doesn’t  discriminate by race, we assume that the default incarceration rate for everyone is an equal 450 per 100,000. By doing that alone the United States falls from first place to 11th.

We can also look at the breakdown by crime committed. Around 22% of prisoners are in state and federal prison for non-violent drug related crimes. 22% of 450 is 99. So if drug usage was legalized, this further reduces the rate of incarceration to 351. The united states would then be in 24th place.

Even with these reductions, the incarceration rate is more than triple that of other equally developed countries, like France, the Uk, and Germany. Its more than 5 times that of Norway, the Netherlands and Denmark. All of these countries have comparable law enforcement technology to the united states.

These are just some quick estimates that take into account some readily available and easy to work with information. We haven’t even considered things like private prison profit incentives, private prison quotas, and public policy. Quoting from wikipedia, “ Violent crime was not responsible for the quadrupling of the incarcerated population in the United States from 1980 to 2003. Violent crime rates had been relatively constant or declining over those decades. The prison population was increased primarily by public policy changes causing more prison sentences and lengthening time served, e.g. through mandatory minimum sentencing, “three strikes” laws, and reductions in the availability of parole or early release. 49 percent of sentenced state inmates were held for violent offenses. Perhaps the single greatest force behind the growth of the prison population has been the national “War on Drugs.” ”

So no, more technology being available hasn’t resulted in the United State’s insane incarceration rates. Institutional racism, a bullshit “war on drugs”, and vindictive laws that line the pockets of private prisons are. Don’t let ideology fool you, the United States is objectively one of the least free countries.

Slavery’s New Face

Private prisons, are the new form of slavery in America. Gone are the days where blacks are forced to work for nothing against their will, as we welcome the days where.. blacks are forced to work for nothing against their will. See the problem? For those that have invested in the prison industry, they’ve hit a gold mine. Think about it, all of their employees are full-time, you never have to worry about them calling out with some lame excuse, you only have to pay them 25 cents an hour, and what if they don’t want to work you ask? They are locked up in isolation cells. I know my fellow college students are probably thinking that isolation is better than having a roommate, but isolation is what makes people go crazy. Imagine having zero contact with human life day after day after day. Just sitting in a room by your lonesome. That’s a major fear of every jail inmate, so they have extra incentive to get to work on time and do no wrong.

Here are a few statistics for you courtesy of Vicky Peleaz of

  • There are approximately 2 million inmates in state, federal, and private prisons
  • The United States has locked up more people than any other country.
  • The United States holds 25% of the world’s prison population, but only 5% of the world’s people
  • The United State’s jail population has grown from less than 300,000 in 1972, to 2 million by the year 2000.

According to California Prison Focus “no other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens. These facts are absolutely ridiculous. We’re supposed to live in the land of the free, but ¼ of our citizens are imprisoned. What type of sense does that make? This is modern-day slavery. American’s are always looking for a way to make easy money, so what our prison stats look like is an opportunity to do so. 10 years ago there were only 5 private prisons in the country, with a population of 2,000 inmates and now there are 100, with 62,000 inmates. Not to say that the private prison owners are racist because I do not know any personally, but lets just let the facts speak for themselves:

  • No minority owns a private prison,
  • The majority of the inmates are minorities (even tho “minorities” are the “MINORITY” in the United States)
  • Inmates work damn near for free for companies that produce clothes that we all have on our back

Something is wrong here.

After seeing the staggering statistics about how many American’s are incarcerated, one might think that America is full of bad people. When I walk around during my everyday life I do not see a world full of bad people, and I think most feel the same. So why are all of these American’s locked up? According to there were 196,574 sentenced prisoners under federal jurisdiction on Dec. 31, 2012. Only 11,688 of the prisoners were locked up for violent offenses. So no, the people walking around on the streets don’t look violent, because most of them aren’t! In fact, the majority of prisoners (99,426) are locked up for drug offenses. When we here the word drug, we instantly imagine guns, gangsters, and prostitutes, when in fact that is not true. A lot of people are behind bars for smoking harmless “drugs” such as marijuana. 72,519 prisoners are locked up for public offenses, one-third of them being immigration offenses. Thankfully policy makers are starting to wise up and notice this horrible trend of over populated prisons full of non violent offenders. This is seen by marijuana becoming decriminalized and even legal in some states. I applaud the policy makers for seeing the error in their ways, but it’s far too late. There are people who have spent the majority of their lives behind bars for what? Making a little extra change by selling a harmless drug? Smoking something recreational for stress relief? That’s crazy. Alcohol does far more damage than marijuana does to one’s body, yet alcohol is heavily promoted by America. Who is the government to say what is ok and what is not to something that is only harming the person that is using it? In my opinion, the government knows who is using drugs the most (minorities) and this is their way of getting them incarcerated.

The Corrections Corporations of America (CCA) and The GEO Group Inc. (GEO) are the two largest prison companies. They receive nearly 3 billion dollars a year. They make their money by charging the state per bed in the facility. This video goes in-depth on how the private prison industry works, as well as showing the corruption behind it.

How can we stop the private prison industry from thriving? We first must start to look at why it has been such a success for the these companies. Private prisons came about when prison’s became over crowded. The government then ensued by paying these companies to run prisons.  Obvious solution: the United States needs to build more prisons under their own sanctions. This is possible, because the incarceration rate in the U.S. has drastically dropped this past decade due to decriminalization of certain laws. This only stops it in the United States though. Private prisons would simply expand further into the United Kingdom, Australia, and other foreign countries where prisons are overcrowded. So is there a way to truly kill this issue or are we just turning it into a global issue?

It cost an average of $47,000 to incarcerate an inmate in the United States. Let me repeat that, $47,000! The average tuition for a full college experience (staying on campus, meal plan, etc.) cost $40,000. That’s right, its cheaper for someone to get educated, than it is to be incarcerated, yet there are way more prisoners than college students. What type of message is the United States sending to the world?  Instead of locking it’s citizens up, why not put them in a program to help change their ways and get them an education? I just used the ”full college experience” as an example, but someone could easily go to a community college for $3,000 a year. The government would save so much money if they would just change their ways and they know this, but they still won’t! And why won’t they? Because they know that knowledge is power. They would rather oppress their people than educate them. That’s an unwritten principle that our country was built on. Native-Americans, oppressed; African-Americans, oppressed; all minorities in the United States due to our justice system, oppressed. This pattern must stop.

The private prison industry is indicative of slavery.

Minorities are:

  • going to jail for non-violent offenses
  • working for little to nothing
  • being abused in these private prisons due to lack of security

Even after getting released for jail, the life of an ex-convict isn’t much of a life. It is extremely hard for them to find jobs because no one wants someone that’s been to jail working for them. Their credit is usually bad which makes it hard for them to buy a home or car. Most ex-convicts just go back to doing what got them thrown into jail in the first place, whether it’s robbing others, selling drugs, etc, because they simply need money. Also because private prisons do a horrible job at rehabilitation, so once released, ex-cons tend to go back doing whatever criminal activity they got arrested for because that is all they know. In the small picture, private prisons must cease to exist, and the government must be the ones that end it by making bigger, more safe prisons that can accommodate all the prisoners. In the big picture, non-violent crimes need to continue to be decriminalized, and education needs to take the forefront in America. If education was more affordable, maybe people would not feel the need to fall into the life of crime. The culture in America needs to change, and that change has to start from the top down. The government has to make the decision that higher education is never a finance issue. Until our country makes this decision to change it’s long culture, we’re all just one mistake away from slavery.