Five percent of the population, twenty-five percent of the prisoners

Filed in Geography by on April 23, 2008


The NY Times takes a look at the substantially higher number of inmates in America versus any other country.  With 2.3 million criminals behind bars, the United States incarcerates people for certain crimes that rarely receive prison sentences in other countries.  For example, China, which has a population four times that of the United States, has only 1.6 million people imprisoned.  The rate of incarceration in America means that roughly 1 in 100 adults are behind bars.  The NY Times points to a variety of reasons provide by experts to explain the higher rate of incarceration: “higher levels of violent crime, harsher sentencing laws, a legacy of racial turmoil, a special fervor in combating illegal drugs, the American temperament, and the lack of a social safety net.


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