Governments around the world respond to social unrest and illegal activities in multiple different ways. However, in the United States, even nonviolent offenses are met with long periods of incarceration. America prison population is densely populated; growth in the US prisons is partly attributed to ideological policies rather than actual crime rates. By measure, the US incarcerates around 716 people out of every 100,000 residents. In fact, as at 2013 US had the highest number of inmates in its prison system than any other country in the world. In essence, United States represents around 4% of the world’s population yet it holds 22% of the world’s population in its prisons. The prison policy initiative estimated in 2016 that about 2,298,300 people were incarcerated in American prisons. Prisoners were distributed in the state prisons, local jails, federal prisons, youth correctional facilities, immigration detention camps, territorial prisons, civil commitments, Indian county jails and the United States military prisons. In comparison to other countries, apparently, America has more than five times higher sentencing prisoning rates than most countries in the world.
The crime level in US is comparable to other industrialized nations that are equally stable yet United States prisons are highly populated than its counterparts. Almost all the countries that have relatively high incarceration rates, largely have internal conflicts, United States on the other hand, have enjoyed years of political stability, with no histories of civil war yet the number of inmates in prison cells is far from dismaying. If we compare prisons rate in one state, take the District of Columbia. Impressively, the state of District of Columbia solely has incarceration rates higher than that of Cuba; Cuba is actually second in incarceration rates after US in the world. Although, a number of countries annually commit more inmates in prison, the fact that America keeps their prisoners longer in the prisons sets the prison rate to become higher.
For instance, the average burglary sentencing in Canada is 6 months yet that of America is 16 months, and England’s is just 7 months. Similarly, mandatory sentencing for first time offence for a first time drug offence in America is at least 5years, quite higher in comparison to other developed countries around the world where first time offences attracts at most 6 months in prison. Mandatory sentencing has been criticized in USA justice system as being an inhibitor to judges using their discretion in ruling but only relying on the sentencing. In addition, America prisons have more female prisoners than other countries.
It is estimated that women prisoners in America make up more than 10% of the entire prison population. In most developed countries the population of female prisoners is nearly 1 for every 20. Furthermore, America has substantial racial disparities in its incarceration rates. It is reported that America imprisons a large population of its black citizens than its counterparts. Prison sentencing periods for whites and people of color vary significantly. In this light, it is estimated that about 10,000 out of 100,000 black men are incarcerated in prison cells a number higher than that of South Africa apartheid.
Over the decades Americans tough on policies on crime have continued to pack jails and prisons, mostly with uneducated, poor, sickling and people of color. The startling reality is that high prison rates have a deleterious effect on Americans economy, families and communities in multiple ways. Prison booms mean that billions of taxpayer’s money is spent on correctional facilities in both federal and state prisons. In essence, Americans incarceration policy is less than beneficial but costly.