Saturday, August 21, 2010

Some fun facts about US prisons

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Stephen Fry is somehow able to make these horrible factoids pass through with ease and humor despite them being, well, horrible:

Here’s a quick summary of the points delivered:

  • Three “strikes” and you get a life sentence, regardless of the triviality of the crime(s) involved. Example: Leandro Andrade is serving two consecutive life sentences merely for shoplifting 9 videotapes (collective value: $153).
  • More than 1% of Americans are in jail (2.3 million out of 307 million).
  • The US’s prison population is twice as large as South Africa’s, more than 3 times larger than Iran’s and 6 times bigger than China’s.
  • That’s the highest incarceration rate in history.
  • 1 in 30 men aged 20–34 are in prison.
  • 1 in 9 Black males are in prison.
  • More 17-year-old Black males are in prison than in college.
  • Americans comprise 5% of the world population and 25% of the world’s prison population.
  • US prison inmates produce ALL military helmets, ammunition belts and bulletproof vests; 9.93% of domestic paints; 36% of home appliances; 21% of office furniture.
  • All of the previous, despite the fact that US law prohibits importing goods made through forced labor or prisoners.
  • This loophole allows the US to compete with Mexican factories.
  • And yet, refusing to work merits solitary confinement.
  • In other words, the US has effectively reimplemented slavery.

And we should trust the system … why? Even the punishments are corrupted out-of-whack.

(via @todayspolitics)