The United States comes in first, too, on a more meaningful list from the prison studies center, the one ranked in order of the incarceration rates. It has 751 people in prison or jail for every 100,000 in population. (If you count only adults, one in 100 Americans is locked up.)
The only other major industrialized nation that even comes close is Russia, with 627 prisoners for every 100,000 people. The others have much lower rates. England’s rate is 151; Germany’s is 88; and Japan’s is 63.
THE US IS A ROGUE STATE WHEN IT COMES TO SENTENCING.
It used to be that Europeans came to the United States to study its prison systems. They came away impressed.
“In no country is criminal justice administered with more mildness than in the United States,” Alexis de Tocqueville, who toured American penitentiaries in 1831, wrote in “Democracy in America.”
“Far from serving as a model for the world, contemporary America is viewed with horror,” James Q. Whitman, a specialist in comparative law at Yale, wrote last year in Social Research. “Certainly there are no European governments sending delegations to learn from us about how to manage prisons.”
Prison sentences here have become “vastly harsher than in any other country to which the United States would ordinarily be compared,” Michael H. Tonry, a leading authority on crime policy, wrote in “The Handbook of Crime and Punishment.”
Indeed, said Vivien Stern, a research fellow at the prison studies center in London, the American incarceration rate has made the United States “a rogue state, a country that has made a decision not to follow what is a normal Western approach.”
THE US SENDS MORE PEOPLE CONVICTED OF NON VIOLENT CRIMES TO PRISON THAN THE REST OF THE WORLD :
People who commit nonviolent crimes in the rest of the world are less likely to receive prison time and certainly less likely to receive long sentences. The United States is, for instance, the only advanced country that incarcerates people for minor property crimes like passing bad checks, Mr. Whitman wrote.
AND THE US LEADS IN LENGHT OF SENTENCES
Still, it is the length of sentences that truly distinguishes American prison policy. Indeed, the mere number of sentences imposed here would not place the United States at the top of the incarceration lists. If lists were compiled based on annual admissions to prison per capita, several European countries would outpace the United States. But American prison stays are much longer, so the total incarceration rate is higher.
Burglars in the United States serve an average of 16 months in prison, according to Mr. Mauer, compared with 5 months in Canada and 7 months in England.
ELECTION OF JUDGES PLAYS A ROLE IN HIGHER SENTENCES:
Several specialists here and abroad pointed to a surprising explanation for the high incarceration rate in the United States: democracy.
Most state court judges and prosecutors in the United States are elected and are therefore sensitive to a public that is, according to opinion polls, generally in favor of tough crime policies. In the rest of the world, criminal justice professionals tend to be civil servants who are insulated from popular demands for tough sentencing.
Say what you want, but this much is clear: our criminal justice system sends more people to prison for a longer time than any other nation that employs a "western" style criminal justice system. We are considered a rogue state by most of Europe, and the average length of the average sentence for non violent crimes is truly shocking when considering most judicial systems do not incarcerate criminals for non violent crimes.
Bad news all around, unless you're in the prison industry.
See you in court, trying to make things a little better, one case at a time.