A Book from the Library of Defense

Too Many Laws, Too Many Prisoners

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by: Abassos • September 20, 2010 • no comments

Apparently the Economist has been on fire the last year with it's reporting of criminal justice policy issues. If you haven't read this article, you should. Here's an excerpt:

Justice is harsher in America than in any other rich country. Between 2.3m and 2.4m Americans are behind bars, roughly one in every 100 adults. If those on parole or probation are included, one adult in 31 is under "correctional" supervision. As a proportion of its total population, America incarcerates five times more people than Britain, nine times more than Germany and 12 times more than Japan. Overcrowding is the norm. Federal prisons house 60% more inmates than they were designed for. State lock-ups are only slightly less stuffed. The system has three big flaws, say criminologists. First, it puts too many people away for too long. Second, it criminalises acts that need not be criminalised. Third, it is unpredictable. Many laws, especially federal ones, are so vaguely written that people cannot easily tell whether they have broken them.

Other Economist articles in a similar vein here, here and here.