United States of Incarceration

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I find it funny that a country with the highest incarceration rate per capita than any country in the world has the audacity to call itself “the land of the free”. The United States has become a prison state, if not a police state. But what is the cause of these outrageous incarceration numbers? Three words: war on drugs.

The U.S. has 751 people in prison for every 100,000 of the population. Russia is the only country that comes close with 627 per every 100,000 people. 3.1 percent of the adult population is in jail. Can you as an American citizen accept that? Can you accept that 1 out of every 100 adults is a criminal? Can you accept that we are incarcerating non-violent offenders on such a massive level? (Kirk, T.J.)

Following the start of Nixon’s drug war the incarceration rate has increased up to 700% in 2005, according to Pew researchers. "After a 700-percent increase in the US prison population between 1970 and 2005, you'd think the nation would finally have run out of lawbreakers to put behind bars," said the report by Pew's Public Safety Performance Project. But apparently we haven’t yet. In 2009 alone, 1.66 million Americans were arrested on drug charges, more than were arrested on assault or larceny charges. And 4 of 5 of those arrests were simply for possession.

Why do we have so many non-violent offenders in jail? Simple. Just follow the money. Most Americans are under the impression that prisons are privately owned. They would be wrong. Most prisons are owned by private corporations like Corrections Corporation of America. You must be wondering what this has to do with our outrageous incarceration rate. Well, I’ll tell you. In a 10k form submitted to the Security and Exchange Commission, the CCA listed several possible risks to their bottom line. “The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or...
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