errick Z. Jackson
The Boston Globe
What is the “world’s leading prison state”? asked Derrick Z. Jackson. You might think it is repressive China or Putin’s Russia. But as a recent Pew Center study recently revealed, it’s the U.S., where 2.3 million people—one out of every 100 adult Americans—now languish behind bars. Per capita, our rate of imprisonment easily exceeds that of Russia, is six times that of China, and seven times that of Germany and France. The primary crime behind this swelling population is not robbery or murder but the sale and possession of drugs. Under draconian laws adopted during the crack epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s, most of those sentenced to long prison terms are black: One in 15 black men is in jail, compared to one in 106 white males. Yet, in an amazing act of hypocrisy, the State Department last week issued an annual human-rights report that condemned Russia, Burma, and China for arbitrarily imprisoning too many of their citizens. Nations that live in glass prisons shouldn’t throw stones.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- In Ferguson, Michael Brown lost his life — and America's police lost the benefit of the doubt
- In defense of Gwyneth Paltrow
- Republicans love this new health care plan. Too bad it's basically a tax cut for the rich.
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 17 old proverbs we should use more often
- 8 tricks to surviving the holidays without gaining weight or being grouchy
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
- Chuck Hagel wasn't the problem. It's America's addiction to endless war.
Subscribe to the Week