I just read an article that really blew my mind. (Thanks to ProvokingThought for pointing me to it.) Here’s a quote, just for a sampler. Somehow I have never realized how huge this is.
Today, approximately 1.8 million Americans are behind bars; no other nation imprisons more of its citizens. At the current growth rate, by the year 2050 half of the US population will be incarcerated.
The prospect is, of course, absurd: society would cease to function. But what drives this headlong rush towards the unimaginable?
Prison is no longer just a crime and punishment business, it is a money business. From the chain gang to the isolation unit, incarceration has become one of America’s fastest-growing industries, a sure thing in a softening economy. Generating over $30 billion a year in the US — more than baseball, more than pornography — the thriving prison industry has created millionaires with a vested interest in filling cells and employees with a fatalistic attitude to their long-term guests. “Let’s face it,” one warden recently remarked, “they’re here to die.”
Read the full article here Somehow the phrase that I put in bold really amazed me. It’s hard to believe that in America, the nation that so many people want to immigrate to, there is a larger prison population than in any dictatorship. And the fact that prison has become a huge business means that we can’t survive without it. Like social services, there are so many jobs involved that we can’t afford to have many people leave the system.
Another tidbit that shocked me was the fact that the average sentence served for dealing crack cocaine is almost twice as long as the average sentence for homicide. Something about this country has become sick, very sick.