Monday, April 25, 2005

US incarceration rate highest in the world

From The New York Times:

The nation's prisons and jails held 2.1 million people in mid-2004, 2.3 percent more than the year before, the government reported on Sunday...

The Justice Policy Institute, which advocates a more lenient system of punishment than incarceration, said the United States had the highest rate of incarceration in the world, followed by Britain, China, France, Japan and Nigeria.

According to the government's report, there were 726 inmates for every 100,000 United States residents on June 30, 2004, compared with 716 a year earlier. Put another way, in 2004, one in every 138 residents was in prison or jail; the previous year it was one in every 140.

In 2004, nearly 60 percent of prison and jail inmates were racial or ethnic minorities, the report said. An estimated 12.6 percent of all black men age 25 to 29 were in jails or prisons, compared with 3.6 percent of Hispanic men and 1.7 percent of white men in that age group, the report said.

Am I crazy, or is something very wrong when the world's bastion of freedom incarcerates nearly 1% of its population?

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