America's Prison Epidemic

| 2/29/2008 4:22:57 PM

PrisonOne in every 100 Americans are currently in jail or prison, according to a recent study by the Pew Charitable Trust. The prison population grew by approximately 25,000 people last year, and now some 2,319,258 adults are currently locked up. The American inmate population is more than 1.5 times the size of China’s, the BBC reports, even though China has a far larger population and is known for their strong-arm police tactics.

The Pew study calls attention to the enormous amount of money spent on running all the prisons. In the Nov.-Dec. issue of Utne Reader, Glenn Loury calls attention to the overwhelming social impact of putting all those people in jail. Loury writes, “Never before has a supposedly free country denied basic liberty to so many of its citizens.” The Pew study reports that one in every nine black males between the ages of 20 to 34 is behind bars. According to Loury, “this entire dynamic has its roots in past unjust acts that were perpetrated on the basis of race.”

Bennett Gordon

Image by S. Baker, licensed under Creative Commons.

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