Racism, Mass Incarceration, and the United States “Justice” System

The Progressive Cynic

© Josh Sager – October 2013

prison_by_cnv-d27lsxb

Picture by CNV

The United States has the dubious distinction of being the country which imprisons a larger percentage of our population than any other country on earth. Out of every 100,000 Americans, 716 are currently in jail—to put this into perspective, here are imprisonment statistics for several countries that have regularly been demonized for their repressive governments:

  • Cuba: 510 inmates per 100,000 citizens
  • Russia: 475 inmates per 100,000 citizens
  • Iran: 284 inmates per 100,000 citizens
  • Zimbabwe: 129 inmates per 100,000 citizens

The United States is not a small country by any means, thus our high incarceration rates translate to truly staggering numbers of people in jail. According to the most recent estimates, nearly 2.2 million Americans are currently serving time in the federal, state and local prison systems—in addition to those who are serving time, approximately 5.8 million Americans are on probation, on…

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