World Prison Population List 2007

Check out this document: World Prison Population List 2007. Use it for your class presentations, term papers. But most all just browse the statistics. They are very eye-opening.

The United States imprisoned 7.14% of its population in 2007. That number has gone up slightly: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/glance/corr2.cfm

England, by comparison, imprisons 1.42%

Or you can be a prisoner of Andorra, a tiny European country high in the Pyrenees between France and Spain served by one winding highway. With 61 prisoners, adding you would be constitute a shameful jump in their prison population percentage of .6%! They might have trouble finding you a pair of pajamas your first week there.

The USA stands alone. Nobody come close to us. Our nearest competitors are some the world’s most repressive regimes who imprison at most 5% of their population.

The difference between the USA and other free countries is we have a privatized prison industry. Our industry is technically run by the government, through the enforcement of public laws, but thanks to politics, privately run contractors, like the ones who build the freeways, run prisons. Lots of them. They have formed a powerful special interest group that produces propaganda and elects politicians who support their cause: “tough on crime.” On top of that, the large workforce employed to handle incarcerations has formed a complimentary special interest group: corrections officers unions. They too are supporters of the “tough on crime” agenda.

The “tough on crime” politicians advocate not just tough laws to clean up the streets. They advocate bad policy to replenish the streets with crime. Among their strategies: (1) hit education support hard. Argue that schools are a waste of taxpayer money! Point out that many schools are poorly run eyesores where good kids go to get beat up while overpaid union teachers who get three months off every year stand and watch.  (2) Hit schools hard. Employ every strategy to take funding away from public education, increase class sizes, provide poor reading materials and a bad learning environment. Vilify the teachers’ unions who by and large have been trying vainly to get class sizes reduced, salaries raised, teacher support improved, and , of course, those retirement pension packages kept intact (every teachers strike I knew of, the cutting of pensions was the prime motive). Point out that teachers unions fight testing and evaluating teachers for competence (they did, but they compromised on that) (3) Hit youth programs hard. Argue the “social conservative” hardliner stance that “nanny” can’t be taking care of your kids, training them in etiquette so they can get a summer job, and that youth at-risk of joining a gang or dealing drugs and hustling, come from bad environments and aren’t worth the trouble. Argue religious groups can handle such tasks better but never follow through with the idea of giving faith-based organizations access to funds with which to operate their own programs. (4) Get tough on crime. The preceding will cause crime to dramatically increase – nothing works as well as unaddressed social problems, so explain the reason for the increase in crime is due to lax liberal punishment standards.  The laws on the books must somehow be too weak.

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