High incarceration rates most often indicate that governments are only in power by threatening their people or spreading fear. On top of that you see a (most likely) strong effect / high prisoner numbers created by the "commercialization" of putting people into prison - countries where prisons are run as a business.
Guaranteed prisoner numbers or occupancy levels agreed in such contracts (another demonstration that business ethics don't exist anymore) strongly contribute to high numbers and IMHO also express that governments in countries were such contracts / approaches are allowed have completely lost touch to their population.
In developed countries there are two diametrically opposite examples to where governments are trending towards in the moment:
The UK currently considering to play catch-up with the US by also privatizing prison "services" and guaranteeing inmate numbers / occupancy levels.
On the other side Sweden that just recently closed 4 prisons because they were not needed anymore.
Privately run prisons in the US are not guaranteed inmate numbers or occupancy levels. That's a common misconception due to poor reporting on how the contracts are structured.
What they are actually guaranteed is a minimum payment. For instance, a contract might say that the prison company will take and maintain up to 100 prisoners, and the State will pay them each year the greater of $100k/prisoner or $9m.
This somehow gets reported as the contract guaranteeing that the State will keep a 90% occupancy rate in that prison.
>North Korea estimates 150,000 to 200,000 incarcerated, which roughly equals the US imprisonment rate at 600-800 people incarcerated per 100,000
Although I think it would be more interesting to look at re-incarceration rate.
Less developed countries look as if they have very little crime. The issue is the justice system cannot cope with the amount of crime or the crime is simply ignored due to corruption, bribery, etc.
The true crime doesn't come from the inmates, it comes from the people locking them up.
But is this really down to some kind of prison-industrial complex that "bribe[s] politicians and judges to provide inmates"? That seems a little far-fetched.
Let's use Hanlon's razor here - isn't it far more likely that the US incarceration rate is an artefact of endemic inequality, poor education, and a constant desire for politicians to appear "tough on crime"? Do we really need to bring bribes into it?
>The "kids for cash" scandal unfolded in 2008 over judicial kickbacks at the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Two judges, President Judge Mark Ciavarella and Senior Judge Michael Conahan, were accused of accepting money from Robert Mericle, builder of two private, for-profit juvenile facilities, in return for contracting with the facilities and imposing harsh sentences on juveniles brought before their courts to increase the number of inmates in the detention centers.
And the bribery definitely happens. As someone else pointed out already, a juvenile prison bribed judges to convict more kids. But I've also read about a state (Arkansas?) that has a contract with a new privatized prison to provide a guaranteed number of inmates for some time into the future. And you can bet they lobby for tougher sentences too.
Tough on crime can lead to terribly injustice, but for-profit prisons are guaranteed to lead to terrible injustice.
But you can compare the USA to the rest of the western world: Europe, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand. These countries share very similar societies, values, legal systems, forms of government and levels of economic development. With this simple filter the anomaly becomes clear and bias is harder to claim.
The only reason I know of the country is because it is used for evading tax in EU, and because I got a job-offer from a company that operates there, but I am a bit surprised of the high number.
So of course things got bad. Lots of social issues. It is improving, more and more young people are getting an education, but they have a lot of social issues to deal with yet.
Well, I hope things will improve.
Ranked 216 !!
There are different reasons why a country might be low on the list. Maybe they have little crime, maybe they fight crime without locking people up for long periods of time, or maybe they lack the resources to fight crime.
If a country is high on the list, it could be they have insanely high crime, but it could also mean that they punish much harsher than other countries, or crime is not the primary motivation to lock people up.