America: “Land Of The Not-So-Free” If You’re A Woman
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/16/20
According to the International Centre for Prison Studies, nearly a third of all female prisoners worldwide are incarcerated in the United States of America. There are 201,200 women in US prisons, representing 8.8% of the total American prison population. As Forbes’ Niall McCarthy reports, China comes a very distant second to the US with 84,600 female prisoners in total or 5.1% of the overall Chinese prison population. Russia is in third position – 59,000 of its prisoners are women and this comes to 7.8% of the total.Either American women are the worst-behaved in the world, or the politically-expedient “prisons-first” culture has gone too far.
And here is Al-Jazeera’s Heather Schoenfeld explaining five things everyone should know about US incarceration:
Since the late 1980s, the US federal and state governments have sold imprisonment as the solution to myriad problems that have their roots in much more complex social and economic conditions.
The criminalisation tendency is politically expedient. This “prisons-first” political culture has one big downside: it has created mass incarceration.
Here are five things that everyone should know about mass incarceration in the United States.
1. The US incarcerates more people per capita than any other nation in the world: Approximately 1 in 100 adults or more than 2.2 million people are behind bars in the US, according to the Pew Center on the States. In addition, another 4.6 million (or a total of almost 7 million) people live under some form of correctional supervision.
Although the US is widely recognised as a “land of liberty”, it could also be described as a nation of prisons. It incarcerates more people per capita than any other nation. Its imprisonment rate (per capita) is almost 50 percent higher than Russia’s and 320 percent higher than China’s.
Within the western hemisphere, the US incarcerates five times as many people per capita as Canada and almost 2.5 times as many as Mexico.
2. Mass incarceration is not a result of higher crime rates: The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world not because it has higher crime rates, but because it imprisons more types of criminal offenders, including non-violent and drug offenders, and keeps them in prison longer.
With the exception of homicide, US crime rates are comparable to other European countries with much lower incarceration rates.
High incarceration rates are the result of “truth in sentencing”, “mandatory minimum” and “three strikes” laws which have limited judicial discretion in sentencing and parole release. As a result, sentences are now mainly determined by what the prosecutor decides to charge. And prosecutors routinely over-charge defendants in order to encourage plea agreements.
An egregious, but not unusual, recent example illustrates this point. In 2012, a Florida woman, who fired a “warning shot” in the direction of her physically abusive ex-husband (who was not hit by the bullet), was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
The judge, as a result of mandatory sentencing legislation, was given no discretion in her sentencing. He sentenced her to 20 years in prison.