Thursday, February 28, 2008

1 in 100 American adults are in prison

The United States has now reached an incarceration rate of 1 in every 99.1 adults, the highest rate in the world. We're spending an enormous amount of money to train people to be hardened criminals by throwing people convicted of nonviolent drug-related crimes into prisons with real criminals.

Finland, by contrast, has one of the lowest incarceration rates in the world, which has been in place for over 30 years. There is no correlation between crime rates and incarceration rates. In my opinion, we should decriminalize drug use, get rid of mandatory minimums, and adopt a model much closer to Finland's, where only violent offenders are imprisoned. Those who cause other kinds of harm to others should be required to make restitution to their victims.


Eamon Knight said...

But you're such a Gawdly nation!

Brian Moore said...

It's absolutely terrible. And to some extent, (not sure if there's actual data on this) incarceration may increase crime for some individuals as they gain contacts in prison.

This isn't a reason to not imprison murderers, but it is one to not imprison pot dealers.

Eamon Knight said...

It occurs to me to wonder what the effect on the GDP is.

First I thought: that's 1% of the population that's not out producing goods, and buying other goods' ie. they're non-productive consumers. Thus, a 1% reduction in GDP.

Then I thought: no, I bet the budget for the prison system (especially the privately-run ones) is counted in the GDP, and considering that the cost of keeping a prisoner can be as much or more than an average wage, it probably shows as a net increase in the GDP. Which just shows how artificial some of these measures are.


rod said...

Early Arizona prisons ran their own farms, produced needed goods and services costing taxpayers very little if at all. Then the purveyors raised a stink and the state had to purchase milk and other commodities from private enterprise.

The voters of Arizona approved medical marijuana two years in a row and it was ignored both times. There was a rider on that Proposition to release all prisoners who were being held for drug charges with no other crimes against them. This has not happened.

What word best fits this inaction?