1 in 99 Americans Behind Bars

29 02 2008

From the Huffington Post:

NEW YORK — For the first time in U.S. history, more than one of every 100 adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report documenting America’s rank as the world’s No. 1 incarcerator. It urges states to curtail corrections spending by placing fewer low-risk offenders behind bars. . . .

“For some groups, the incarceration numbers are especially startling,” the report said. “While one in 30 men between the ages of 20 and 34 is behind bars, for black males in that age group the figure is one in nine.”

Wow.  Either we put people behind bars who should not be (which we do) or we are a violent, thieving culture (which we are). 

The first scenario is easy enough to account for (harder to fix though).  Overzealous conservative douche-bags decided that we need to put non-violent small time offenders of all types behind bars.  With new politicians and new legislation we can reform this problem.

But it also has to be said that American culture is simply more violent than it needs to be.  This can only be changed through a cultural shift (a slow process that is near impossible to inspire).  To be sure I’m not speaking of violent media.  Bring it on.  I’m talking about the general animosity there exists among strangers out there in the US.  Random acts of cruelty that have no explanation.

 I mean you know what I’m talking about.  According to the new study you’re probably in jail yourself.

The article also talks about the economic trouble this creates.  Four states spend more on corrections than higher education.  What can you say, more bars, thicker walls.

 

The ultimate in voyeurism, Statesville Correctional Centre in Crest Hill, Illinois, is a panopticon.  The central guard tower allows for one guard to see into every cell, and the lighting ensures that the prisoner never knows where the guard is looking.  Big brother is watching.

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