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The Straight Dope: Does the United States lead the world in prison population?
According to the International Centre for Prison Studies at King's College London, the U.S. currently has the largest documented prison population in the world, both in absolute and proportional terms. We've got roughly 2.03 million people behind bars, or 701 per 100,000 population. China has the second-largest number of prisoners (1.51 million, for a rate of 117 per 100,000), and Russia has the second-highest rate (606 per 100,000, for a total of 865,000). Russia had the highest rate for years, but has released hundreds of thousands of prisoners since 1998; meanwhile the U.S. prison population has grown by even more. Rounding out the top ten, with rates from 554 to 437, are Belarus, Bermuda (UK), Kazakhstan, the Virgin Islands (U.S.), the Cayman Islands (UK), Turkmenistan, Belize, and Suriname, which you'll have to agree puts America in interesting company. South Africa, a longtime star performer on the list, has dropped to 15th place (402) since the dismantling of apartheid.

Its much worse than you think, but that's just business and businesses rise and fall all the time.  Pursuing a policy which reduced prisoner numbers is no big deal.  Prisons are hugely expensive and everybody knows they don't do a great job anyway. You'll be pushing open doors all over the place if you come up with a proposal that reduces prisoner numbers - if not in the prisons themselves!

I'll do a Diary on restorative justice some other time.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 07:25:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll add that many police units doing drug enforcement in the USA are completely self-funded because of confiscation laws. Some are silver-plated in terms of their kit and working conditions. They don't indirectly depend upon the war on drugs, they directly depend on it.

The police force has a pretty big microphone.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 02:37:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You might want to investigate one of the most compassionate and successful rehabilitation ystems - the Finnish Prison Service.


There has been a 17 year program to change the system, Here are the principles of the system:

  • Punishment is a mere loss of liberty: The enforcement of sentence must be organised so that the sentence is only loss of liberty. Other restrictions can be used to the extent that the security of custody and the prison order require.
  • Prevention of harm, promoting of placement into society: Punishment shall be enforced so that it does not unnecessarily impede but, if possible, promotes a prisoner's placement in society. Harms caused by imprisonment must be prevented, if possible.
  • Normality: The circumstances in a penal institution must be organised so that they correspond to those prevailing in the rest of society.
  • Justness, respect for human dignity, prohibition of discrimination: Prisoners must be treated justly and respecting their human dignity. Prisoners may not be placed without grounds in an unequal position because of their race, nationality or ethnic origin, skin colour, language, gender, age, family status, sexual orientation or state of health or religion, social opinion, political or labour activities or other such similar thing.
  • Special needs of juvenile prisoners: When implementing a sanction sentenced to a juvenile offender, special attention must be paid to the special needs caused by the prisoner's age and stage of development.
  • Hearing of prisoner: A prisoner must be heard when a decision is being made concerning his/her placing in dwelling, work or other activity and some other important matter connected to his/her treatment.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 03:04:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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