Incarceration in the United States
Incarceration in the United States is one of the main forms of punishment and rehabilitation for the commission of felony and other offenses. The United States has the largest prison population in the world, and the highest per-capita incarceration rate.
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- Today, America ranks among the most punitive states in world history — second only to the Soviet Union under Stalin.
- John Clegg and Adaner Usmani, "The Economic Origins of Mass Incarceration". Catalyst, 2019. 3 (3): p. 9
- If we are right that the overdevelopment of the American penal state is a symptom of the underdevelopment of the American social policy, meaningful reform is in large part the task of winning redistribution from ruling elites. It will be costly. And there will thus be losers, who will resist it. The end of American mass incarceration is not a technical problem for which there are smart, straightforward, but just not-yet-realized solutions. Rather, it is a political problem, the solution of which will require confronting the entrenched power of the wealthy. In this sense, the task before us is to build the capacities of poor and working-class Americans to win redress from their exploiters.
- John Clegg and Adaner Usmani, "The Economic Origins of Mass Incarceration". Catalyst, 2019. 3 (3): p. 53
- More than two million people in the United States are behind bars, a higher rate of incarceration than any other country in the world, constituting a new Jim Crow. The total population in prison is nearly equal to the number of people in Houston, Texas, the fourth largest U.S. city. African Americans and Latinos make up 56 percent of those incarcerated, while constituting only about 32 percent of the U.S. population.
- Our prison-industrial complex, which holds 2.3 million prisoners, or 25 percent of the world’s prison population, makes money by keeping prisons full. It demands bodies, regardless of color, gender or ethnicity. As the system drains the pool of black bodies, it has begun to incarcerate others. Women—the fastest-growing segment of the prison population—are swelling prisons, as are poor whites in general, Hispanics and immigrants. Prisons are no longer a black-white issue. Prisons are a grotesque manifestation of corporate capitalism. Slavery is legal in prisons under the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It reads: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States." And the massive U.S. prison industry functions like the forced labor camps that have existed in all totalitarian states.
- Most people don’t quite relate US prisons to government sponsored torture. We can thank the mainstream corporate media and politicians for this. Since the 1960s and 1970s they’ve persistently projected the false image of US prisons as resorts where criminal predators eat chips, lift weights, and watch videos all day, much like the images given of slavery as an experience that Black folks actually enjoyed. These false images are sustainable because the real world of prisons is a hidden one, concealed behind walls and razor wire, inaccessible to the public.
- Kevin Rashid Johnson, "Amerikan Prisons Are Government-Sponsored Torture," Socialism and Democracy, vol. 21, no. 1 (2007), p. 87