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1 in every 136 Americans is behind bars

One out of every 136 Americans is currently incarcerated in a federal or state prison or a jail. That’s 738 people for every 100,000 residents. The rate is even higher for African-American men. The US incarceration rate is the highest in the world, and has been climbing for years (probably related to the privatization of prisons…where there’s a profit to be made, the laws of supply and demand tend to kick in).

Canada has 130 people in prison for every 100,000 residents. Interestingly, the countries with the highest rates of incarceration tend to also have the highest crime rates, which would suggest they’re doing something wrong – repeatedly.

An interesting American prison fact is that inmates can lose the right to vote – in some states, forever. Given the extraordinarily high rate of African-American men who are or have been incarcerated, this would seem to be a policy that effectively disenfranchises the African-American population. The same holds true for the low-income population. By the year 2000, 16 American states had disenfranchised more than 10% of the African-American population, and 13% of all African-American men could no longer vote because of various state laws prohibiting anyone with current or past felony convictions from voting.

Democracy, American style.

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