Friday, February 29, 2008

Land of the free

Another appalling outlier statistic: the US has over 1% of its adult population incarcerated, more than any other country in both raw and per-capita numbers. Damn. China, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia all manage to get by with far fewer people thrown in jail than that beacon of freedom, the United States.

My first thought was that this could mostly be chalked up to high numbers for blacks, but while the rates for them are truly astonishingly high, it is still the case that 1 out of every 106 adult white males is locked up.

I'm going to have to try to find some positive statistics in which the US is an outlier. I'm sure there must be some.


Mark Frank said...

Disappointing comment from Paul Cassell: 'the “very tangible benefits — lower crime rates.”'. I just read an article in the UK Prospect magazine about the increasing UK imprisonment rate (way behind the USA, but catching up.) There is very little evidence that tougher punishment acts as deterrent to crime. There is however quite a lot evidence that improved detection is a deterrent. Better to put resources into the police, CCTV cameras etc than prisons.

Neutrino Cannon said...

How many of those imprisoned in the US are locked up for drug offenses?

mtraven said...

Good question...according to numbers here it's about 23.6%