Ali’s blog

Mostly quant stuff with occasional digressions

One piece of encouraging news

Posted by alifinmath on March 1, 2008

Assailed as we are with discouraging news across the board, there’s at least one statistic that’s at a record high (along with mortgage foreclosures):

US prisons hit new high: 1 in 100 adults jailed

The number of prisoners in federal and local jails grew to 2.3 million, out of the country’s adult population of 229.8 million, which gives a ratio of one in 99 adults behind bars.

It has long been known that the US has the most prison-happy approach to crime control in the world. China, with a population far greater than America’s, comes in second with 1.5 million prisoners, and Russia third with 890,000.

Compared with the UK, America has proportionately five times as many prisoners, with 750 out of 100,000 of its residents incarcerated, as opposed to Britain’s 148 per 100,000.

As John Gray contends in his, “False Dawn,” the law has become almost the only functioning social institution and prisons among the few remaining means of social control (in the US).

US incarceration rates are roughly ten times the European rate (the British rate is high for Europe), and fourteen times the Japanese rate. For 1993, the male homicide rate in the US was 12.3 per 100,000, compared with 1.6 for the EU and 0.9 for Japan. Similar disparities hold for other violent crimes (rapes and robberies). But few people point out one salient statistic: if one confines one’s attention to Americans of European origin, the crime figures are roughly comparable to those of Europe. Similar crime figures will be found in a heterogeneous society such as Brazil, again with most violent crimes being perpetrated by non-whites.

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