American Prison System!
There is much to be said about today’s prison system in the United States. Whether you think it’s an effective system or a system in need of a complete overhaul, we will let the facts speak for themselves.
- An estimated 6.9 million people are currently under the supervision of adult correctional systems.
- With only 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. has 25% of the world’s prison population – which makes the USA the world’s largest jailer.
- Since 1970, The US prison population has risen 700%. 93% of people in prison are male, 7% are female.
- Together, African American and Hispanics comprise 58% of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately one quarter of the US population.
- One in six black men have been incarcerated as of 2001. If current trends continue, one in three black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime.
- About $70 billion dollars are spent on corrections yearly. Prisons and jails consume a growing portion of the nearly $200 billion spend annually on public safety.
- And prison is a growing industry. Between 1990 and 2010, the number of privately operated prisons in the US increased by 1,600%.
- Over half of the private prison profits come from holding facilities for undocumented immigrants.
- In contracts with the government, some private prison companies demand minimum occupancy levels of more than 90%. These contracts guarantee that prison occupancy rates will stay at or above a specified level. If occupancy rates are not fulfilled, the government pays for the empty beds.
- As it turns out, private companies have a cheap, easy labor market, and it isn’t in China. It’s right here in the land of the free, where large corporations increasingly employ prisoners as a source of cheap and sometimes free labor. Many prisoners are forced to work real jobs for private corporations, forcing down wages in the rest of the economy. One source reports that almost 1 million prisoners are doing simple unskilled labor including “making office furniture, working in call centers, fabricating body armor, taking hotel reservations, working in slaughterhouses, or manufacturing textiles, shoes, and clothing, while getting paid somewhere between 93 cents and $4.73 per day.” That is compared to the federal minimum of $58 a day.
- The nation’s prison industry now employs more people than any Fortune 500 corporation except General Motors. Some people call prison labor modern day slavery.
- A few companies who hire prison labor are Victoria’s Secret, Boeing, McDonalds, and Starbucks.
- Solitary confinement, widely used in American prisons, is regarded internationally as torture. Prisoners held in solitary confinement are typically kept in a small, windowless cell for 23 hours a day, with minimal access to lawyers, family, and guards.
- The number of prisoners currently in solitary is estimated to be around 80,000. Because of its prison system, the US is the only country in the world where more men are raped than women. There were 216,000 victims of rape in US prisons in 2008. That is roughly 600 a day or 25 every hour.