The Blog

Land of the Not-so-Free

In Connecting the Dots on Thursday, 24 April 2008 at 11:36

You won’t hear any US presidential candidate talking about it, but prison has been in the news lately. Marie Gottschalk, writing in The Washington Post, discussed the two societies now developing in the US as almost 1 in 100 American adults is currently incarcerated. Add to that a recent piece in The New York Times, which reported that one-fourth of the world’s prisoners are locked up in the US; the land of the free leads the planet in both the number of inmates (2.3 million) and the proportion of the population behind bars (751 per 100,000, some six times the world average). Of course, not everyone sees this as a problem: The same week as these numbers came to light, the law-and-order types over at The Weekly Standard reported that crime in prisons is dropping, along with the general crime stats. On the other end of the spectrum is Italy, where many federal cases are dropped because they’re tied up in court for too long, a work furlough program worked so well one jail had more guards than prisoners, and one crimelord was let out of the stony lonesome because he was too fat for the beds.

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