Friday, February 29, 2008
American Values #5: Prison Nation
It is not new, but nonetheless of interest, that the Empire has the largest prison population on the planet (#2 is China). The rate of incarceration is staggering (1 in 100 overall; 1 in 35 adult male Hispanics, 1 in 9 black males 20 to 35), especially when compared to other OECD nations (Germany: 1 in 100,000). Besides being big believers in the death penalty (an honor the nation shares with certain benighted Third World nations, and no others), American values apparently encompass imprisonment as the first resort in corrections. Needless to say, the cost of this ruinous policy is equally unsustainable, and so, some states are "discovering" that rehabilitation is preferable to expensive housing of prisoners. Alas, Chaos' experience in the state which has the largest prison population in the Empire leads to the conclusion that choosing rehab over incarceration to save expenses inevitably results in underfunded programs, or the costs simply transferred to oversight departments ("probation"). The current article is enlightening, although not particularly helpful (what % of people are imprisoned for the ridiculous "war on drugs?" doesn't say...).