This article compares prisons under dictatorships and levels an argument against American hypocrisy. America is quick to call on dictators with abusive prison populations, but the statistics here are staggering. New Jersey locked up 313 citizens for every 100,000 population in 2005. This is one and half times that of Gadhafi's Libya and five times that of Musharraf's Pakistan. If one adds inmates in local jails (people incarcerated for less than a year) the numbers would only get worse.
In fact 45 out of the 50 states (democratically elected governments) the article claims lock up its citizens at faster rates than any of the countries headed by dictatorships. New Jersey included. Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Minnesota are the only states surviving the dubious determination. Of course the worst are the regular culprits, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma. What is more, in America one out of every 136 residents finds themselves behind bars (the article does not get into race, but in NJ 65% of residents are black, one can only imagine the ratio). The article calls this a uniquely American belief and as I have said in an earlier post, the prison system has become a merry go round with over half (it is actually 60%) who find their way back to jail. The article also makes the point that half the prison population in jail could be emptied because they are serving time for non-violent offenses.
For more see the article by the Asbury Park Press, which they should be commended for. Our legislators really need to catch up with this issue.