“In 1980, fewer than 500,000 Americans were in prison; today, the number is 2.3 million. To put that statistic in perspective, the median incarceration rate among all countries is 125 prisoners for every 100,000 people. In England, it’s 153; Germany, 89; Japan, a mere 63. In America, it’s 743, by far the highest in the world. Include all the U.S. residents currently on probation or parole, and our country’s correctional population soars to about 7.2 million—roughly one in every 31 Americans. All told, the U.S. incarcerates nearly 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, even though it’s home to only 5 percent of the world’s inhabitants.”

— That’s Newsweek’s Andrew Romano, writer of this week’s profile of Jim Webb and his “crusade” to reform the criminal-justice system. (via newsweek)

I wonder if the War on Drugs has any correlation to this explosion of prisoners over the last 30 years. How many of those 2.3 million are drug offenders (we’ll ignore the classification questions: weed vs heroin, etc, and look at all drugs)? (via joshsternberg)

This is just a rhetorical question, right?

Here’s a handy visual to help illustrate the point above:

This chart comes courtesy of this post, which includes these enlightening comments from Michelle Alexander:

"“More African American men are in prison or jail, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850, before the Civil War began.”

"Most of that increase is due to the War on Drugs, a war waged almost exclusively in poor communities of color."

"If we were to return prison populations to 1970 levels, before the War on Drugs began, more than a million people working in the [U.S. prison industrial] system would see their jobs disappear.”

02:04 pm: misterhippity448 notes

  1. newsweek posted this