America. In prison…
America. In prison…

America. In prison…

More than any other country in the world, America is in prison.

We lock people up at a higher rate than anyone else.

With just over 4% of the world’s population, America has 25% of the world’s incarcerated population.

Do we have more crime than other countries? No.

America loves to lock people up.

Over the last 40 years, the United States prison population has grown by more than 500%. We spend more than $80.7 billion annually to put people in prison.

In reality, prison sentences don’t make America a safer place. They just make life harder for millions of citizens who are impacted by lawmakers’ attitudes that stricter sentencing guidelines make our country safer.

It’s time for change.

Did you know that the families of inmates often have to pay $1/minute or more for a phone call? Why? Because prisons and jails profit by granting monopoly telephone contracts to the company that will charge families the most.

Did you know that an inmate has to work thirteen hours to pay for dental floss on the prison commissary?

A clause in the 13th amendment which freed slaves, purposefully left one big loophole, allowing slavery for people convicted of crimes.

The 13th Amendment, ratified in 1865, says: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Scholars, activists, and prisoners have linked that exception clause to the rise of a prison system that incarcerates Black people at more than five times the rate of white people, and profits off of their unpaid or underpaid labor.

Inmates are usually required to work a job while incarcerated, often at only pennies an hour, part of which is often collected as payment for room and board. A study by the Prison Policy Initiative concluded that the average inmate has to work for 13 hours to pay for a $1.87 package of dental floss.

The 1980s saw the birth of for-profit private prisons. Worming their way into seats on the American Legislative Exchange Council, private prisons have influenced legislation for longer, tougher prison sentences. Not only do private prisons advocate for broadening the definition of existing crimes but also creating new crimes. According to a study done by The Sentencing Project, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), spent an average of $1.4 million per year on lobbying at the federal level and employed more than 70 lobbyists at the state level.

Isn’t this like putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop?

In fact, a story in the Washington Post provides hidden details on the impact of CCA’s lobbying. “With the growing influence of the prison lobby, the nation is, in effect, commoditizing human bodies for an industry in militant pursuit of profit… The influence of private prisons creates a system that trades money for human freedom, often at the expense of the nation’s most vulnerable populations: children, immigrants, and the poor.”

When will America take back its honor and demand criminal justice reform?

That’s what will make a stronger, safer America.


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