Some FACTS to chew on:
1) The United States represents 4.4 percent of the world’s population
2) The United States houses 22 percent of the world’s prisoners (We’re #1)
3) The United States has the highest rate of youth incarceration in the world
This begs the question, WHY?
1) Privatized Prisons
For Profit imprisonment is a crime in of itself. In a country where we deny more freedom to our own populace than any other country in the world why put fuel on the fire? Privatized incarceration is fundamentally one of the most flawed concepts in our country. In a system that is supposed to be democratic and impartial the introduction of the concept of making profit off the backs of forced labor is simply repugnant.
2) Incarcerate Them Early. Often. And no matter what you do; don’t intervene…
We have MORE child prisoners per citizen than ANY other country in the world. Let me repeat that. More of our children have their freedom taken away than ANY other country. We imprison more children than any other civilized country in the modern world. We imprison more children than ANY third world country. This is simply shameful and this fact alone should force us to alter our national behavior.
When you introduce a child to a system with no forgiveness how do you expect to get them back into society when you don’t have any systematic goal to do so? Child imprisonment is indentured servitude for most the kids who get the odds stacked against them from the very beginning. But hey – we are making money and if we get them early we can make boatloads from this lifelong cultural, systematic, and socio-economic enslavement.
3) Mental Health
We need to focus on mental health in this country. Many prisoners are not prisoners as much as they are victims to diseases of the brain. And countries that have a holistic and forward-thinking approach to mental health fair far better in their prison systems.
Rehabilitation should be the answer here and not systematic entrapment for a self-injuring (or sometimes morally correct but legally wrong) practice. Once it is in the system it is hard to get out. Everyone makes mistakes and this one is a frequent mistake in our society in terms of our prison population.
5) We are too Proud
Humility. Sometimes introspection does wonders for the soul. As a people we often chant blindly about being number one. But we rarely sit down and examine ourselves and reflect on our societal ills and look to solve them before it is utterly too late.
Well it is too late. You can’t have more children and people in prison than any other country in every significantly negative statistical category and claim moral superiority. We all too often blind ourselves to our own reality because it is marginalized and not in our faces. We have a terrible justice system and it is time to admit it and look to major reforms.