If you’re American and you sing the words “land of the free” tomorrow, remember (even though it hurts) that we no longer deserve that title and should work together to earn it back. From Wikipedia:
The incarceration rate in the United States of America is the highest in the world. As of 2009, the incarceration rate was 743 per 100,000 of national population (0.743%). In comparison, Russia had the second highest, at 577 per 100,000, Canada was 123rd in the world as 117 per 100,000, and China had 120 per 100,000. While Americans only represent about 5 percent of the world’s population, nearly one-quarter of the entire world’s inmates have been incarcerated in the United States in recent years. Imprisonment of America’s 2.3 million prisoners, costing $24,000 yearly, and $5.1 billion in new prison construction, consumes $60 billion in budget expenditures.
We got here because for-profit law enforcement concerns have captured our democratic legal institutions (the concept of a monstrous hybrid organization helps explain this). There’s a lot of money to be made in imprisoning people, and it has nothing to do with safety, rehabilitation of criminals, or justice.
The next time you hear a politician talk about being “tough on crime,” take a closer look and see if he or she is heavily supported by private prison concerns or prison guard unions. The next time you come across a referendum that strengthens sentencing policies, take a look at who’s supporting it.
The United States’ incarceration rate is shameful, it destroys families, and it doesn’t make us safer. Know this. Exercise your right to vote against the privatization of law enforcement whenever you can. Now go celebrate Independence Day.