Saturday, December 16, 2006

We're number one!

United States imprisons more people than China, Russia or any other nation, experts say:
A report released by the justice department on Nov. 30 reported 1 in every 32 American adults -- or a record 7 million people -- were incarcerated, on probation or on parole at the end of 2005, with 2.2 million of them in prison or jail. The International Center for Prison Studies at King's College, London reported that this number was the highest of any country, with China ranking second with 1.5 million prisoners, and Russia sitting in third with 870,000. The United States also has the highest incarceration rate at 737 per 100,000 people, compared to nearest country Russia's 611 per 100,000 and St. Kitts and Nevis' 547.

[snip]

"The United States has 5 percent of the world's population and 25 percent of the world's incarcerated population. We rank first in the world in locking up our fellow citizens," said Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance, which supports alternatives in the war on drugs. "We now imprison more people for drug law violations than all of Western Europe, with a much larger population, incarcerates for all offenses."

Ryan King, a policy analyst at The Sentencing Project, said that about 2 million of the 7 million in prison, on probation or on parole were drug offenders. He added that other countries tend to focus on treatment over incarceration, but the United States has a more punitive legal system than other countries.

"We send more people to prison, for more different offenses, for longer periods of time than anybody else," he said.

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