Measured Against Reality

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Prison Nation

Well look at this: America has reached an awesome new milestone:

For the first time in the nation’s history, more than one in 100 American adults is behind bars, according to a new report.

Nationwide, the prison population grew by 25,000 last year, bringing it to almost 1.6 million. Another 723,000 people are in local jails. The number of American adults is about 230 million, meaning that one in every 99.1 adults is behind bars.

It's even worse for minorities, I've heard that there are more blacks in prison than in college, though don't have a good source for it.

The really sad thing is how many of those people are minor drug offenders, totally nonviolent people who did nothing to anyone but themselves, and now they're in prison for years and years. And then when you take into account how much crime happens because drug markets are black, I bet we could easily halve our prison population by ending prohibition, and I wouldn't be surprised if we could get it under 1/10 what it currently is through sensible policies.

Too bad all of that is political suicide. And now it's getting even worse, with prison becoming an industry of its own.

So do you like where this is heading? I know I do!

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  • The "more Blacks in prison than in college" thing, even if true, would be a specious comparison. The great majority of college students are drawn from a very narrow age group (18-22), whereas prisoners can be of any age. If there were more college age Blacks in prison than in college, that would be remarkable.

    By Blogger Holy Prepuce, at 1:13 PM, February 28, 2008  

  • Holy Prepuce, I wasn't clear, that comparison is for the same age group (18-22, as you said). You're correct that it would be a specious comparison otherwise.

    By Blogger Stupac2, at 3:38 PM, February 28, 2008  

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