America is a democracy and supposed to be a bastion of freedom. This is the perceived image all over the world. But there is another facet of America that is not so well known and that concerns its prisons. How many know that America has 2.3 million men and women behind bars. Tha is a colossal figure and if statistics have any meaning it means America has 500,000 more prisoners than China which has a population 4 times the size of America.
What could be the reason? Is America the home of crime? Are Americans more prone to criminal activity than others races and nationalities. The answer to this question is pretty complex. Firstly I do feel Americans are more criminal minded than citizens of China or the UK or France. But the fact remains that the number of prisoners has increased manifold since 1960.
The answer lies in the economics of the USA. America is a capitalist society that measures everything in profits. They have also used the jail system to generate profits. This is the harsh truth. Ever since many states allowed big multinationals to use the prison labor for production and profits, the goose was cooked for the prisoner. He could not be released as he helped generate profits. Obviously more prisoners are needed to beef up the work force and generate more profits. Hence the judges hand out long prison terms. In fact one judge, who was a share holder in a privatized prison, was adept in sending Americans to his own prison to help augment the work force.
This is a dangerous ploy and is like a double edged sward. It is perhaps the first step in America becoming a police state where a large prison population will help the capitalists make profit. In addition a number of laws are enacted where personal liberty has taken a hit.
But I feel the prison population may prove unproductive in the long run. To keep a sizable number of its own people behind bars is bound to have repurcussions. I hope the US administrators are ware of this. I am also sure that the prison population will go up further in the years to come. The future looks frightening and I hope the American people can weather the coming storm