All the World’s Pains are in One Country

All the World\'s Pains are in One CountryNews Story: Inmate Count in the U.S. Dwarfs Other Nations

Information released in this recent article on U.S. inmate count in comparison with other countries’:

* The U.S. has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, but almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners

* The U.S. has 2.3 million criminals behind bars, more than any other nation

* China, which is four times more populous than the United States, is a distant second, with 1.6 million people in prison

* The only other major industrialized nation that even comes close is Russia, with 627 prisoners for every 100,000 people

* Americans are locked up for crimes that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. In 1980, there were about 40,000 people in American jails and prisons for drug crimes. These days, there are almost 500,000.

‘The simple truth is that imprisonment works,’ wrote Kent Scheidegger and Michael Rushford of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in The Stanford Law and Policy Review. ‘Locking up criminals for longer periods reduces the level of crime. The benefits of doing so far offset the costs’

* The reason for the crime? “It could be related to economies that are more capitalistic and political cultures that are less social democratic than those of most European countries,” Mr. Tonry wrote. “Or it could have something to do with the Protestant religions with strong Calvinist overtones that were long influential.”

The American character – self-reliant, independent, judgmental – also plays a role.

“America is a comparatively tough place, which puts a strong emphasis on individual responsibility,” Mr. Whitman of Yale wrote. “That attitude has shown up in the American criminal justice of the last thirty years.”

My Comment: All the world’s pains are in one country.

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