Mass incarceration is a growing topic of debate and I’ve recently posted a book review on the topic. This is an important political topic, so I’d like to share a related analysis from one of my favorite sites: StraightDope.com. Here’s a sample:
- “According to the World Prison Population List, the United States has… 716 prisoners per 100,000 people, the highest rate in the world.
- “At the federal level… more than half the convicts are in because of drugs. However, at the state level — and the states account for 87 percent of U.S. prisoners — drug crimes account for only 16 percent of those doing time. The majority of state prisoners — 54 percent as of 2012 — were convicted of violent crimes, 19 percent of property crimes, and the remainder everything else (e.g., drunk driving).
- “Do stiffer drug penalties single out black people? The numbers say no. Of state prisoners, 14 percent of whites are in for drugs, 15 percent of Hispanics, and 16 percent of blacks — no big diff.
- “Whites constitute 80 percent of the U.S. population and 32 percent of imprisoned violent criminals. For Hispanics, it’s 17 percent and 23 percent; for black people, 13 percent and 41 percent.
- “The appallingly high number of U.S. prisoners… resulted from get-tough-on-crime laws that have fallen most heavily on black men.”
- Please read the full post at StraightDope.com.
The high rate of violent crime convictions probably has a further story to tell, but if any of us hope legalizing pot will empty US prisons, we’re not dealing with the total issue.