The Incarceration Industry – 2 graphs
from David Ruccio
As everyone knows (or should know), the United States is an international outlier when it comes to incarceration rates.
According to the Hamilton Project,
The U.S. incarceration rate—defined as the number of inmates in local jails, state prisons, federal prisons, and privately operated facilities per every 100,000 U.S. residents—is more than six times that of the typical Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) country. A variety of factors can explain the discrepancy in incarceration rates. One important factor is higher crime rates, especially rates of violent crimes: the homicide rate in the United States is approximately four times the typical rate among the nations shown in this chart. Additionally, drug control policies in the United States—which have largely not been replicated in other Western countries—have prominently contributed to the rising incarcerated population over the past several decades. Another important factor is sentencing policy; in particular, the United States imposes much longer prison sentences for drug-related offenses than do many economically similar nations.
What that means if there are more than 2 million Americans in prison or jail.
Here’s how the incarceration rate has changed over the past 100-plus years of U.S. history: