The United States of America holds nearly one-quarter of the world’s prisoners. That’s because of an alarmingly high incarceration rate — the highest by far in the world — that strikes some as tough and others as simply barbaric. About one in every 100 adult Americans sits behind bars. Oh, and it’s a racist system, to boot. Take that, China!


New York Times:

The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.

Indeed, the United States leads the world in producing prisoners, a reflection of a relatively recent and now entirely distinctive American approach to crime and punishment. Americans are locked up for crimes — from writing bad checks to using drugs — that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations.

Criminologists and legal scholars in other industrialized nations say they are mystified and appalled by the number and length of American prison sentences.

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