we rule!

The U.S. has just passed Russia in the percent of its citizens it keeps behind bars.

"Why, in the land of the free, should 2 million men, women and children be locked up?" asks Andrew Coyle, director of the International Centre for Prison Studies at the University of London and a leading authority on incarceration.

When he discusses crime and punishment with foreign colleagues, Coyle says, the United States is such an anomaly that it must often be left out of the discussion. "People say, 'Well, that's the United States.' They see the U.S. as standing entirely on its own," he says.

. . . .

Today the United States imprisons at a far greater rate not only than other developed Western nations do, but also than impoverished and authoritarian countries do.

On a per capita basis, according to the best available figures, the United States has three times more prisoners than Iran, four times more than Poland, five times more than Tanzania and seven times more than Germany. Maryland has more citizens in prison and jail (an estimated 35,200) than all of Canada (31,600), though Canada's population is six times greater.

To me this suggests something's just not right. This being America however, not everyone is disturbed by these numbers, and in fact for some they're not good enough.
"If you put someone in prison, you can be sure they're not going to rob you," says David B. Muhlhausen, a policy analyst at the [right-wing] Heritage Foundation. "Quality research shows that ... increasing incarceration decreases crime." Considering that there are still about 12 million serious crimes a year, Muhlhausen says, "maybe we're not incarcerating enough people."
The article by Scott Shane, which appears in today's Baltimore Sun, is a good mini-primer on the subject of how America deals with those it regards as wrongdoers.

hi james,


see link above for article on Finland's prison system, a STARK contrast.