US prison population quadrupled since 1980: 500K to 2.3M. The incarceration rate in the US today is 753 inmates per 100,000 people, compared to 151 inmates per 1000,000 people in the UK, 96 in France and 88 in Germany.
We call it “repression” when other countries put huge numbers of their population into jails –but when we do it it’s different.
We are number ONE because we’re special:
A study (PDF) from the Pew Research Center’s Economic Mobility Project, released Tuesday, reports that the US prison population has more than quadrupled since 1980, from 500,000 to 2.3 million, making the US’s incarceration rate the highest in the world, beating former champions like Russia and South Africa. (Source)
The cost of prisons to states now exceeds $50 billion per year, or about $21,700 per prisoner per year—about the same cost as to send a student to a State university for a year. Hmmmmm, which investment to make . . .
Bonus Question: Why did the US incarceration rate jump dramatically after 1980? What changed?
HINT #1: Filling Prison Beds for Profit
Owners of private prisons are lovin’ it:
- ‘Poor people, In jails and prisons, each can generate corporate revenues of $30,000 to $40,000 a year–or more.
- New York City’s annual cost per inmate was $167,731 last year — nearly as much as it costs to pay for four years of tuition at an Ivy League university. (cnbc.com)
Private Prisons Love Mass Incarceration, And Want Politicians To Love It Too Private prison companies have helped fuel government policies which lead to an increase in prison population and boost their profits, according to a recent report. The private prison population has grown 353.7 percent in the past 15 years, according to a study by the Justice Policy Institute. Major private prison companies have an incentive to encourage policies which keep that number on the rise. “Steady increases in the number of people in private prisons, especially those coming from federally contracted beds, translate into increased revenues for private prison companies,” the report says.
Putting US incarceration into perspective . . .
There are now more Americans in jail (6 million) than there were in Stalin’s Gulags. (Source)
The U.S. has 760 prisoners per 100,000 citizens. How does that compare to other countries?
- Japan has 63 per 100,000,
- Germany has 90 per 100,000
- France has 96 per 100,000
- South Korea has 97 per 100,000
- Britain has 153 per 100,000
And it’s also a relatively new phenomenon: In 1980, the U.S. only had 150 prisoners per 100,000 citizens.
Animation: Locations and Growth in the Number of US Prisons 1778-2005
- Green Dots: 1778-1900
- Yellow Dots: 1901-1940
- Orange Dots: 1941-1980
- Red Dots: 1981-2005
Want detailed analysis? Read this:
With a cynical approach to “rehabilitation”, coupled with the US prison system’s recidivism rate (conservatively estimated at around 35%),this is indeed a “sweet spot” for US corporate profits.“The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up. Prisons depend on this income. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners’ work lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The system feeds itself,” says a study by the Progressive Labor Party, which accuses the prison industry of being “an imitation of Nazi Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps.” The prison industry complex is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States and its investors are on Wall Street. “This multimillion-dollar industry has its own trade exhibitions, conventions, websites, and mail-order/Internet catalogs. It also has direct advertising campaigns, architecture companies, construction companies, investment houses on Wall Street, plumbing supply companies, food supply companies, armed security, and padded cells in a large variety of colors.”
Privatization is good–for the owner elite.
Why? Private prison providers charge the State more than it would cost the State to run the prisons–and then are allowed get away with cutting corners, delivering lower levels of service, and exploiting inmate labor.
Resulting in obscene profits for owner elites.
As always, profits first . . .
Hard to believe? Try this:
Corrections Corporation of America Used in Drug Sweeps of Public School Students. CCA is not a law enforcement agency. “To invite for-profit prison guards to conduct law enforcement actions in a high school is perhaps the most direct expression of the ‘schools-to-prison pipeline’” (Source)
- Private Prisons Move Into Public Schools (wesmantoddshaw.wordpress.com)
- Corrections Corporation of America Used in Drug Sweeps of Public School Students (prwatch.org)
- Corrections Corporation of America by Wesman Todd Shaw
- Gaming the System: How the Political Strategies of Private Prison Companies Promote Ineffective Incarceration Policies (prisonmovement.wordpress.com)
- The Hidden History of ALEC and Prison Labor
- Private Prisons Spend Millions On Lobbying To Put More People In Jail (kaystreet.wordpress.com)
- The Secret Meeting that Changed Rap Music and Destroyed a Generation”
- Private prison industry uses three strategies to influence public policy (politicore.wordpress.com)
- Prison Privatization as Political Payback (my.firedoglake.com)
- Five myths about Americans in prison (prisonmovement.wordpress.com)
- Private Prison Corporations Are Modern Day Slave Traders by Glen Ford
- Corrections Corporation of America, a Private Prison company “educates” law makers into passing harsher sentencing laws. (en.wikipedia.org)
- Prison Quotas Push Lawmakers To Fill Beds, Derail Reform (huffingtonpost.com)