LBN’s Bob Donley reports that the United States is breaking records, but probably not the kind we’d want to brag about. The U.S. has the largest prison population in the world. Donley discusses our prison population and why we have such a large one in this report.
Many Americans probably think of Iran and North Korea as punitive regimes with vast prison populations. Russia, Egypt, and Venezuela have all had their share of turmoil in recent years. And Cuba’s prison population is something Americans have talked about for years. But none of them come close to the U.S. In fact, if you add in Turkey, the U.K., Canada and Australia. The combined prison populations of those ten countries is less than that of the U.S.
Russia has about 850,000 prisoners. North Korea has about 150,000 in prison. If you add up the totals for those countries, plus Iran, Cuba, the U.K., Venezuela, Turkey, Canada, and Australia, the total comes to under 1.6 million prisoners. The United States has more than 2 million people in prison, and more than 4 million are on supervised parole.
The reason for America’s very large prison population is laws establishing mandatory minimum sentences and “three strikes” laws and laws setting special sentences for the use of firearms in the commission of a crime. The tougher laws have brought a decline in crime in the U.S. However, the FBI says that one in three Americans has a criminal record. The U.S. also has the highest percentage of population incarcerated of any nation—716 people out of every 100,000.
Donley notes that it may be time to reconsider the efficacy of our mandatory sentencing laws.
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