Salon: 8 Appaling Ways America Leads the World

The United States is the most wealthy and affluent country in the world yet we still have many overbearing issues that need to be resolved. Many of these specific problems involve healthcare and prison population/reform. Read this eye-opening article that identifies the eight problems within which we Americans face currently. Read the full article here.

5. Most people behind bars. Incarceration rates in the U.S. blow right past the likes of Russia, Cuba, Iran or China. According to the International Center for Prison Studies, the U.S. locks up 716 out of every 100,000 people. Norway, in contrast, only puts 71 out of 100,000 in the clink. Japan jails 54 and Iceland locks up only 47 out of 100,000.

The latest stats show that the total prison population of the U.S., including pre-trial detainees and remand prisoners, is 2,239,751. These people are behind bars at 4,575 different facilities. The estimated capacity of our prisons, by the way, is only 2,134,000. In 2010, there were an estimated 70,792 juveniles locked away.

Racism is rife in the prison system, with blacks and Hispanics disproportionately represented. Inhumane conditions abound, from poor care for those suffering from serious diseases like HIV/AIDS to the torture of solitary confinement to rape to abuse of the mentally ill.  Debtor’s prisons are thought to be a relic of the 19th century, but starting in 2011, in the U.S. you can find yourself imprisoned for debt in several states, including Florida. High rates of imprisonment seem to derive from a number of factors, including long sentences, the incarceration of non-violent offenders (20 percent of the prison population is made up of drug offenders) and the privatization trend, in which private corporations rely on “growth” models to increase their profits.

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