July 16, 2005

Prison in the Land of the Free

Naturally, I was reading MIM Notes—The Official Newsletter of the Maoist Internationalist Movement—today and I learned from their Facts on U$ imprisonment section that "the United $tates has been the world's leading prison-state per capita for the last 25 years, with a brief exception during Boris Yeltsin's declaration of a state of emergency." Furthermore, "To find a comparison with U$ imprisonment of Black people, there is no statistic in any country that compares including apartheid South Africa of the era before Mandela was president."

You may laugh at the source or the writing, and the data they use in this May 2005 issue are from 1994, but the reality is that this is the truth and the situation is only getting worse. According to a study by the UK Government, the United States had 1.96 million prisoners and the highest prison population rate in the world as of 2002, followed closely by the Cayman Islands and Russia. As of mid-2004 the US prison and jail population was a still greater 2,131,180, with the racial breakdown going:

4,919 black male inmates per 100,000 black males
1,717 Hispanic male inmates per 100,000 Hispanic males
717 white male inmates per 100,000 white males
(From the U.S. Department of Justice)

Our (domestic) penal system is a topic that has almost completely fallen out of mainstream political discourse. In the midst of wars abroad and culture wars here, we shouldn't forget it.


  1. This DOJ website also demonstrates that violent crime rates have declined since 1994, reaching the lowest level ever recorded in 2003.

    Also, property crime rates dropped simlilarly, certainly to the lowest rate in the last 30 years.

    You don't state your position or point, so I'm not sure what it is we shouldn't forget.

  2. David Lee10:06 PM

    i'm going to assume the orignial blog was by a liberal and am going to explain the position. any liberals feel free correct me. because the republicans are in power, money is being drained in unnecessary venues namely defense, corporate tax cuts...and so on. if this money were channeled to more necessary uses, namely education in urban areas, the number of prisoners would decrease and we wouldn't look like racist assholes.

    Chris, was this the point you wanted to make? Would the democrats, were they in a position of power, make this situation an issue and fix it? In all seriousness, I think, for both parties, that when they want to fix an issue they hire statisticians to conjure up something to make it look like they did anything. my two cents.