Prison Nation

Keeping the conversation alive about our country’s ridiculous propensity for locking up its citizens, Fareed Zakaria did a spot on CNN pointing out some of the statistics for anyone who hasn’t heard it yet:

  • The total number of Americans under correctional supervision (prison, parole, etc.) is 7.1 million, more than the entire state of Massachusetts.
  • The U.S. has 760 prisoners per 100,000 people. Most European countries have one seventh that number per capita.
  • In 1980, our rates of incarceration were a quarter what they are now.
  • In the past two decades, the money that states spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education.
  • Since 1980, California has built one college campus; it’s built 21 prisons.
  • Most prisons are privately run, and the corporations running them have a powerful lobby in Congress.  It is big business.
  • Even Pat Robertson is speaking out about the need to legalize Marijuana, and to scale back the number of laws we have that create criminal penalties for everything under the sun.

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