Americans love to think of the country as No 1 in every dimension. Richest, most powerful, most freedom, most dynamic economy, best healthcare, best sports teams, best education and on and on…… there are some things that we are No. 1 in and by such a stretch that they point to some pretty unfortunate features of our society. As noted elsewhere here healthcare is one of these (see The Next Battle in Healthcare). Highest cost by far with distinctly middling to poor outcomes.
Jailing people is another area where he US is No. 1 by far with our closest competitors being countries with woeful records for freedom and political rights.
Here are some charts and graphs to illustrate some of the basic facts.
Incarceration Rates – Global Comparisons
Is The US a Crime-ridden Country?
US Jail Population
The Prison Policy Initiative is an excellent source of information.
“Not Convicted” 443,000 (20%) of 2.3 Million Total Jailed
20 percent of all those jailed in the US are in pre-trial detention. This is an indicator of the abuse of the bail system. If you are poor and arrested by the police it is very likely that you will not be able to meet the bond requirements being imposed. This means that you will sit in jail until your “speedy” trial takes place.
1 in 5 People Are In Jail for Non-Violent Drug Crimes
Did We Always Jail So Many People?
Changes in Federal policy followed soon by state policies drove up the Incarceration rate rapidly after the early 1970s. The cynical campaign by Nixon and his “War on Drugs” inaugurated the Age of Incarceration.
Also published on Medium.