The US has the highest number of prisoners in the free world, seconded by China and Russia.
In this country one in every 32 Americans was either in jail, on probation, or on parole at the end of 2005, this according to a study by The International Center for Prison Studies at King's College in London.
The rate in this country is 737 people per 100,000 while most industrialized nations range somewhere around 100 per 100,000. Our prison population has almost doubled in the last ten years. Why?
These figures should raise some serious questions because as we have jailed people for insignificant crimes and leaned away from the initially more difficult, but in the long run less expensive rehabilitate-educate option, we do nothing more than perpetuate the cycle. To give the prisoners we have an education and a chance at life is ultimately cheaper, and it does work.
We need not incarcerate the poorer less educated among us for offenses from which their well off counterparts, with expensive lawyers, are easily excused. We need to give them a chance.
Five percent of the world population but twenty percent of the worlds incarcerated?
The war on drugs is probably the single largest cause of this disparity. It does nothing but ceate more and more hardened criminals as it perpetuates crime. These figures should inspire a search for real solutions; it seems pretty clear the path taken over the last ten years, a path which left rehab lying in the dust in favor of incarceration, hasn’t worked. The message "payback is hell” has done nothing but increase the prison population, turning non violent rehabilable first time offenders into violent criminals who will be in and out of the prison system for life, at great expense to us and to the people who they perpetrate their crimes upon.