13 Signs That America's Prison System Is Out Of Control


Photo: AP

Since the war on drugs began in 1971, America’s prison population has surged 700 per cent to 2.4 million.Prisoners have become part of the economy, manufacturing and assembling products for major corporations, while private prisons have emerged as multi-billion dollar operations.

Now that there are more Americans under correctional supervision than were in Stalin’s gulags, it’s officially out of control.

The U.S. has 5 per cent of the world's population but 25 per cent of the world's prison population

Since the war on drugs started in 1970, America's prison population has surged 700 per cent to 2.4 million

There have been more than 40 million arrests for drug-related offenses in the past 40 years

There are 50,000 arrests for low-level pot possession a year in New York City, representing one out of every seven cases that turn up in criminal courts

Since 1980 California has built one college campus and 21 prisons

Americans spend upwards of $70 billion a year to imprison one of every 48 working-age men

Although blacks make up just 13 per cent of the overall population, they account for 40 per cent of US prisoners

In 1980 there were 691 inmates on death row; currently there are 3,189

The U.S. is the only country in the Western industrialized world that still uses the death penalty

The U.S. has the largest immigration detention infrastructure in the world, including 961 sites either directly owned by or under contract with the federal government

Nearly 10 per cent of US prisons and jails are private, dominated by two major firms — Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group

CCA and GEO Group now manage 16 per cent of federal prisons and nearly 7 per cent of state ones to the tune of nearly $3 billion in combined revenue in 2010

The Justice Department said more than 216,600 people were sexually abused in prisons and jails in 2008, at least 17,100 of which took place in juvenile detention

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