America: a Nation of Prisoners
You probably already know that the United States has the world’s largest prison population. But even more staggering: Twenty-five percent of the world’s prisoners are in American jails. WTF?!?!?!
We have five percent of the world’s population, and twenty-five percent of the world’s prisoners! Something has gone terribly wrong here.
The author of this article says: “How can you tell when a democracy is dead? When concentration camps spring up and everyone shivers in fear? Or is it when concentration camps spring up and no one shivers in fear because everyone knows they're not for ‘people like us’ but for the others, the troublemakers…”
About 2.2 million Americans are behind bars and another 5 million are on parole or probation. And yes there are huge racial inequalities. Among Black males between 25 and 29, one out of every eight is behind bars. Who won the Civil War again?
Non-violent drug offenders make up one third of our prison population. Non-violent perpetrators of other victimless “crimes” make up another large segment of America’s prisons.
This article describes our prison system as a “G.I. Bill in reverse.” “Just as the original GI Bill laid the basis for a major social advance by making college available to millions of veterans, mass incarceration is laying the basis for an enormous social regression by stigmatizing and brutalizing millions of young people and ‘de-skilling’ them by removing them from the workforce. America will be feeling the effects for generations.”
Actually, these prisoners aren't being “de-skilled” in prison. When they come out they’ll know how to pick a lock, hotwire a car, how to make a shiv out of almost anything…
If this situation had happened overnight, there’d be mass anger and fury. There would be riots unlike anything ever seen in this country. Millions of people would take to the streets, demanding their country back. But since we've gradually oozed into this situation over the past few decades, we barely notice.
But something terrible has happened to this country. Is this what our Founding Fathers had in mind?