Another shameful fact about the USA.
Reporter: Mr. Gandhi, after seeing the USA, what do you think of Western Civilization?
Gandhi: I think it would be a good idea!
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Tough sentencing laws, record numbers of drug offenders and high crime rates have contributed to the United States having the largest prison population and the highest rate of incarceration in the world, according to criminal justice experts.
A U.S. Justice Department report released on November 30 showed that a record 7 million people – or one in every 32 American adults – were behind bars, on probation or on parole at the end of last year. Of the total, 2.2 million were in prison or jail.
According to the International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College in London, more people are behind bars in the United States than in any other country. China ranks second with 1.5 million prisoners, followed by Russia with 870,000.
The U.S. incarceration rate of 737 per 100,000 people in the highest, followed by 611 in Russia and 547 for St. Kitts and Nevis. In contrast, the incarceration rates in many Western industrial nations range around 100 per 100,000 people.
Groups advocating reform of U.S. sentencing laws seized on the latest U.S. prison population figures showing admissions of inmates have been rising even faster than the numbers of prisoners who have been released.
“The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s incarcerated population. We rank first in the world in locking up our fellow citizens,” said Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance, which supports alternatives in the war on drugs.
“We now imprison more people for drug law violations than all of western Europe, with a much larger population, incarcerates for all offenses.”
Ryan King, a policy analyst at The Sentencing Project, a group advocating sentencing reform, said the United States has a more punitive criminal justice system than other countries.
MORE PEOPLE TO PRISON
“We send more people to prison, for more different offenses, for longer periods of time than anybody else,” he said.
Drug offenders account for about 2 million of the 7 million in prison, on probation or parole, King said, adding that other countries often stress treatment instead of incarceration.
Commenting on what the prison figures show about U.S. society, King said various social programs, including those dealing with education, poverty, urban development, health care and child care, have failed.
“There are a number of social programs we have failed to deliver. There are systemic failures going on,” he said. “A lot of these people then end up in the criminal justice system.”