The U.S. Incarceration Rate

According to Wikipedia, “The United States has the highest prison and jail population (2,121,600 in adult facilities in 2016), and the highest incarceration rate in the world (655 per 100,000 population in 2016).” The rate has improved over the past five years, but we are still the world leader in imprisonment. About 25 percent of the world’s prison population is in the U.S. At the end of March 2021, there were nearly 1.8 million people incarcerated in the United States.

And the evidence suggests that imprisoning those who break the law does not make them more law-abiding. The recidivism rate is 68 percent. Imprisonment, in short, doesn’t work. We need to find another way to handle law breakers.

Just as the death penalty doesn’t reduce the number of murderers, so imprisonment doesn’t lead to as decline in law breaking. It’s time for us Americans to study what other advanced democracies do to decrease both crime and punishment.

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