By Dianne Frazee-Walker
Anyone interested in prison reform is aware the United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world. Even though our country is large, only five percent of the world’s population inhabit the US. Incredibly, the country’s jails and prisons house 25 percent of all the inmates on the planet. An astounding one-quarter of all of the world’s prisoners are spending time behind bars in the U.S. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, every 33 adults in the U.S. are incarcerated in America’s jails or prisons.
A major contributor to these outrageous statistics, which have doubled since 1990 is the “war on drugs” that has transformed into “the war on indigent people.”
The reasons for incarceration discrimination do not end with economic status. People of color are disproportionately locked-up for minor offenses. A significant factor for this social ill is a lingering policy that has sent countless offenders to prison for years. A small amount of crack cocaine found in the pockets of poor blacks has sent them to prison for decades. However, middle or upper-class whites will endure a mere “slap on the wrist” for cocaine offenses.
More people are behind bars because of drugs than murder, rape or any other violent offense and it is costing tax-payers more than $50 billion a year to keep this atrocity going.
There is only one entity that is benefitting from this out of control economic disaster. The prison industry.
Business moguls have gotten wind of the mass incarceration problem in the U.S. and are making profits off of a deteriorating situation.