Monday, July 10, 2006

The Third Option

Some Republican operative was just on the Daily Show, and seemed to think that he'd made a good point when he stated that only 1 in 500 Iraqis are imprisoned in Iraq today, while 1 in 75 Americans are. To him, this could only have meant two things:

1) Either the Iraqi people are extraordinarily law-abiding.

2) A lot of "bad guys" are out there and haven't been sodomized with glo-sticks yet like they oughta be.

Left unmentioned is the third option - which happens to have the benefit of being true - that the United States incarcerates a greater proportion of its citizens than any other country in the world - a list that includes Cuba and China, lest you've forgotten. Indeed, the US imprisons more than three times as many people per 1000 as the nearest comparable liberal democratic country. The US actually imprisons 714 people per 100,000, while Canada imprisons 116. (PDF source.) If we look at Iraq's neighbours, the Saudis imprison 110 per 100k, the Kuwaitis 148, and Syria 93. Admittedly, these are not countries where sentences last long - capital punishment being preferred, I suppose.

Point is, claiming that more Iraqis need to be locked up because relative to the US, there's so few in prison, is ridiculous. By that logic, every country on Earth needs to start locking more people up.

I wonder how many Americans are aware they live in what can only be described as a prison state.

1 comment:

Robespierre said...

You've spotted the iceberg of the US "justice system." Now look under the surface to see the true magnitude of the horror. Look at the racial composition of prisoners, and how the "war on drugs" is really a war on African-Americans. Look at how prisoners, even once they've done their time, are permanently denied the vote in states like Florida. And finally, with the privatization of prisons, look at how it all will get worse.
We all know that US politicians are beholden to corporate interests. So what do the prison corporations most want? More prisoners. It's no surprise then that these corporations are pushing for long minimum sentences, tighter parole conditions and more law enforcement. And what corporations want, the politicians will deliver. Especially when the corporations agree to build new prisons in areas of high unemployment. Expect the US prison population to continue to increase.

Sadly, our own Vic Toews looks south for inspiration, so expect the same trends here in Canada too.