Jas B
Lv 7
Jas B asked in Politics & GovernmentLaw & Ethics · 1 decade ago

Americans, why do you think you have the largest prison population in the world?

The United States is top of the list in the percentage of it's population in prison, 715 per 100,000 people, far ahead of other countries with large prison populations like China, Russia and Iran.

When you compare them with countries which could be called similiar such as New Zealand 160 per 100,000, Spain 144 per 100,000, Canada and Australia; 116 per 100,000, Austria and Italy 100 per 100,000 and Germany 96 per 100,000 these huge differences in these figures would suggest that there must be serious problems in the US.

I am curious to know what Americans believe are the reasons that so many of their citizens are in jail whether they feel this is a good thing and what they believe would be the best ways to reduce these numbers.

As the only western country which still has the death penalty, which many Americans support as a deterent, I wonder if you believe it works as such. Research suggests that the easy availability of guns is directly related to the murder rate, do you agree?

While this question is specifically directed at Americans all opinions are welcome but do say if you are not an American.





See my profile; while I can see that police corruption and failures in the justice system may account for some of the higher figures, your link to Truth in Justice suggests that only 10% of those in prison are innocent and this only accounts for a small percent of the higher numbers of Americans in jail.

Update 2:

Check my profile; while I can see that police corruption and failures in the justice system may account for some of the higher figures, your link to Truth in Justice suggests that only 10% of those in prison are innocent and this only accounts for a small percent of the higher numbers of Americans in jail.

11 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favourite answer

    Americans ignore the social inequality that causes crime because they think that big government spending on social services is wasteful, when truth is the money we spend on prisons is just enormous.

    It also has to do with a greater availability of guns and tougher sentencing that doesn't allow many who have been reformed to rejoin the regular population.

    Also, the availabilty and market driven illegal drug business is a quick way to make lot's of money for those who have come from squalor and have little connections to succeed in "the real world".


    Source(s): Progressive Liberal Democrat
  • Carl P
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Lets start backwards, as the last comment shows a small lack of understanding of the US government.

    There are 50 states and 37 have a death penalty of which a number of them do not enforce or use as a sentence as they have no means to carry out the sentence of the death penalty.

    Each of the 50 states base their laws on the history of the settling people, whereas I live in a Commonweath State whose laws are base on the English background, I was born and grew up in a State that has a odd view of the laws in general. Each State will enforce the laws in their own belief of what the law means.

    As to why we have the largest prison population,

    In some States like California with the 3 strikes and you go to jail or prison even for some minor offenses, the numbers are forced to increase. They also have a high drug incarceration rate, which though out the country is the fastest raising group in prison. Part of the numbers game come from the border states, which have a higher rate of lock up of drug runners and gang crimes, sometime related crimes by the same people and groups.

    Some of these numbers are person who are not even US citizens serving time in US Prison for trafficking stuff over the border.

    So to answer this part "so many of their citizens are in jail" a good number of them are not US citizens.

    I agree that we do not within our 50 states level out the same treatment of Justice for the same offense, which is a problem.

    However the laws are in place for a reason, and with as large a population and as mobile and potentially deadly a group. The laws do need to be enforced.

    To sum it up, Here in the US every one came from somewhere, and it was not here. And every one believes their way is the correct way to do things. It just can not work that way safely.

  • 1 decade ago

    My personal opinion is the huge spike in prison population can be attributed to the war on drugs that began in the 70s and picked up steam in the 90s. Laws that require mandatory prison sentences for nonviolent drug crimes were created in an effort to curb the increasing drug problem that in turn clogged our prisons. I read recently that over a third of New York's prison population is made up of nonviolent drug offenders because of laws that require mandatory prison sentences for people convicted of nothing more than mere possession. Other countries have begun taking a more liberal attitude toward the drug problem. Many of the drug laws are still in place, but officers are instructed to turn a blind eye toward nonviolent abusers, and this has done much to lower prison rates. Considering how profitable drug trafficking is in the US, and how many possessors get thrown in prison because of it, it seems likely if our own police force would take the same approach and turn a blind eye, our prison population would even out with other countries, or even fall well below.

  • ?
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    For a start China Russia and iran do not keep expensive or dangerous prisoners they just execute them , so that part of you equation holds no water , Being that leaves America as the largest land mass with the largest population it stands to reason that theirs is the biggest population of prisoners. Living in a democracy can be a curse

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  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    Did you ever think that maybe we are just better at catching and convicting people of crimes? Have you ever looked at the official crime rates of somalia or some other war torn country? They show an almost 0:10000 crime rate. That's NO reported crime in a country which we KNOW crimes are happening. Americans are just better at reporting crime, finding criminals and publishing numbers.

  • 1 decade ago

    Because we're number 1! We're number 1! We're number 1! Yay!

    (This works much better if you picture me with a beer in hand while waving a cheap American flag made in China.)

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I dont know and dont care. I like the Americans and the Americans like me [ Im English ]. I love their country and plan to retire there, if they will have me. Americans have a HUGE population so that in my mind is why...Simple really.x

  • Sean
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Tell you what we will tear down prisons and let all the criminals go and live in your house.

    The Americans right to bear arms is for self-defense; you're telling me if someone broke into your home ready to rape and kill you you wouldn't try and defend yourself?

    Japan is a developed country and still uses capital punishment

  • James
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Some Americans are just too stupid sometimes to follow the law. When they think of freedom, they think they can do anything.

    Source(s): Seen some stupid stuff people done here myself.
  • 1 decade ago

    Social injustice, and grievance from the past .

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