The cover of this week’s Parade Magazine contains a startling paragraph. Below the headline “What’s Wrong With Our Prisons?” there is the following statement:
America imprisons 756 inmates per 100,000 residents, a rate nearly five times the world’s average. About one in every 31 adults in this country is in jail or on supervised release. Either we are the most evil people on earth or we are doing something very wrong.
That’s a scary thought, though the “either/or” is also a false dichotomy: those aren’t the only two options, or at least not the only contributing factors. Perhaps our police do a better job of catching law-breakers than in other countries, and courts are more likely to enforce penalties. What passes for law enforcement and legal systems in many parts of the world are so rife with demands for bribes that every official from beat cops to courthouse clerks to high-level justices would be in jail if they lived in the U. S.
I’m not suggesting that we do have some serious issues to face in our country: we imprison far too many of our people and do too little to offer exiting inmates better alternatives. The problems are deep and complex, as illustrated by the aforementioned article, and worth pondering by the best minds we have to offer.
Any ideas from your minds?