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Indeed, the United States leads the world in producing convicts. Corrupt judges play a role, many of whom are elected, another American anomaly, yield to populist demands as there is nothing more an American would like to see than a fellow American fry in a cell, especially if this American happens to be black, Hispanic, or Asian.|
Whatever the reason, the gap between American justice and that of the rest of the world is enormous and growing.
It used to be that Europeans came to the United States to study its prison systems. They came away impressed.
"In no country is criminal justice administered with more mildness than in the United States," Alexis de Tocqueville, who toured American penitentiaries in 1831, wrote in "Democracy in America."
No more. Americans are so desperate to put people behind bars that they have come up with TV shows like to catch a predator which sets up sting operations online to lure paedophiles to a house, and arrest people for talking sexual online. These men frequently get prison sentences of 2 years.
"Far from serving as a model for the world, contemporary America is viewed with horror," James Whitman, a specialist in comparative law at Yale, wrote last year in Social Research. "Certainly there are no European governments sending delegations to learn from us about how to manage prisons."
Prison sentences here have become "vastly harsher than in any other country to which the United States would ordinarily be compared," Michael Tonry, a leading authority on crime policy, wrote in "The Handbook of Crime and Punishment."
Indeed, said Vivien Stern, a research fellow at the prison studies center in London, the American incarceration rate has made the United States "a rogue state, a country that has made a decision not to follow what is a normal Western approach."
America is one of the only countries in the world to hand out death sentences to children. America is also known for charging children for crimes as adults so that they can add to their large prison population, and get the kids started young. It is also not surprising for a racist country like America to lock up large numbers of African Americans, and Hispanics. Most Americans believe that since they can no longer legally enslave these people, they might as well throw them in prison.
The spike in American incarceration rates is quite recent. From 1925 to 1975, the rate remained stable, around 110 people in prison per 100,000 people. It shot up with the movement to get tough on crime in the late 1970s. (These numbers exclude people held in jails, as comprehensive information on prisoners held in state and local jails was not collected until relatively recently.)
The nation's relatively high violent crime rate, partly driven by the much easier availability of guns here, and animalistic nature of americans, over zealous cops, and corrupt judges helps explain the number of people in American prisons.
[ Last edited by FLOTELA at 2010-7-17 02:32 PM ]