About 1 in 157 Americans are in prison

According to Google search, China’s population in 2012 was four times larger than the USA’s 2012 populuation: 1.315 billion to 314 million, and yet, according to this damning report by the Pew Center on the States, One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008, the USA is far less free than the People’s Republic of China in terms of the fraction of each country’s prison population: “At the start of 2008, our country had over 2 million people locked up, followed only by China with 1.5 million persons behind bars. America incarcerates more people now than at any other time in our history; one person out of every 100 [?] is in jail or prison.” [See footnote #1 below.] As an aside, given this hard data, can you blame Edward Snowden for wanting to avoid the USA’s criminal (in)justice system? [See also footnote #2.]

Footnote #1: Given that 2 million goes into 314 million approximately 157 times, the 1 in 100 number cited by the Pew Center is pure hyperbole, but nevertheless Pew’s larger point is well-taken.

Footnote #2prior probability also wonders whether China has any secret courts, like the FISA court in the USA, and whether the various NSA surveillance programs are more sophisticated and invasive than China’s electronic surveillance methods?

Land of the Free?

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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4 Responses to About 1 in 157 Americans are in prison

  1. Farz says:

    agh… come on China itself is a medium security prison. So they have less individuals physically in prison but, in reality they have 1.315 billion imprisoned socially, economically, via the internet, politically and the list goes on. No comparison, we may have more physically imprisoned citizens but the remaining 300+million are free-er than the 1.315 billion in China.

  2. enrique says:

    Ok, that is a fair point, one that I sympathize with to some extent because you are essentially saying that China is “less free” overall than the US is (even though the US incarcerates a larger fraction of its population). But how do you “know” that your argument is true? How does one begin to measure the level of freedom or liberty in a given country? Is the mayor of Hong Kong, for example, threatening to limit the size of sodas you can buy? (No, that would be the mayor of New York City!!!!)

  3. Expect it to keep growing, as more decent families will continue to be torn apart by angry ex’s bent on destruction, racial profiling, and a mis-guided system bent on making money off of torn families. thanks for bringing this to the light.

  4. Pingback: USA Prison Pie Chart | prior probability

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