Monday, January 24, 2011

Land of the (Not) Free

Inspired by this short DailyKos posting.

  • At best, having a slogan of "Land of the Free" is ironic, at worse it is a cruel joke.
  • When President Obama was criticizing China's human rights record I couldn't help respecting President Hu's restraint. He could have said, "the country that hold such a large percentage of its citizens within prisons has no right to lecture others."
  • Per capita, the US has seven times as many citizens in prison as China (source - US #1, China #71). Even in raw numbers the United State (over 2 million) imprisons more people than the much larger Chinese dictatorship (1.5 million).
  • Nearly 12% of young African-Americans between the ages 25 and 29 are imprisoned. The rate of all black males in prison (4.8%) is five times higher than South Africa under apartheid (0.8%). (source also this source)
  • The state of California spends as much on imprisoning citizens as it does on higher education. Anyone familiar with California's budget problems knows the effect the prison lobby has on state spending.
  • In raw numbers, California (246,000) edges out Texas (223,000). Georgia and Louisiana have the highest rate of imprisonment, both exceeding one percent of all citizens. (source)
By far the strangest county in the United States is Anderson County, Texas. Anderson County has a population of 57,000 people of which fully a quarter are incarcerated in the several prison facilities the state has crowded into that county. It makes for weird demographics (Fewer than 40% of the county is female.).

Read also: The Straight Dope, the Sentencing Project, and two from me the World of Private Prisons and the American Police State

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