This just in: A recent study by The Pew Center found that 1 out of every 100 American adults is behind bars. That's 1 percent of the population - in jail! At this rate, the typical American high school has 7 future inmates walking through its halls - scribbling their names on their desks during math class (based on the national average high school size of 752 students).
Even more interesting is that the same study found that the crime rate has not really changed significantly over the last twenty years - yet back in the 1980s the incarceration rate was much lower. So the conclusion is that sentences have been getting harsher, and low to no risk offenders are being punished for their petty crimes with jail sentences.
This, in my opinion, is crazy. People who commit petty crimes, like stealing bikes and televisions with the intention of selling them to try to make enough money to survive, are not the kind of people we should be putting in prison. They are the people who need a hand of help. We should be giving jobs to them, and we should offer them free education and any other health and social services while they're at it. We should find ways to integrate these people into their communities, find a place for them in society. If they are rehabilitated in this way, if they can identify their social purpose and the way their community relies on them, I doubt they would resort to petty crime. What do you think?
The study gets a bit more detailed: The USA has the highest rate of incarceration in the world - by a long shot. In fact, the United States imprisons far more of its own citizens than other so-called "authoritarian" states - including Russia, China, and the "rogue state" of Iran, a member of the "Axis of Evil". I repeat - the United States imprisons more of its own members of society than countries in the Axis of Evil, which are said to be countries that are not "free". While the USA is at a 0.075% incarceration rate (for its entire populous), Iran is at a rate of 0.022%. I bid you: look at these facts and then try to convince me that the US is not a secret member of the Axis of Evil. I wonder sometimes.
If you are reading this, and you are an American male between the ages of 20 and 34, you better watch out: There is a 3.3% chance that you're reading this from behind bars. But if you're an American male between the ages of 20 and 34 and you have darker skin color, there is an 11% chance that you are reading this from your prison cell. These stats offer yet another indicator of blatant racism that still characterizes American society.