The US Has More People In Jail Than Any Other Nation Research Paper

Length: 4 pages Sources: 4 Type: Research Paper Paper: #24996210 Related Topics: Criminal Justice System, Prison Population, Africa, Incarceration Published May 10, 2022
Excerpt from Research Paper :

Incarceration Rates in the United States Versus Other Countries

The US incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than any other country on earth (Wagner & Sawyer, 2018). It has the largest prison population by far with over 2,000,000 prisoners behind bars. Second is China with just over 1.5 million prisoners incarcerated. Third is Russia with just shy of 900,000 prisoners and in a distant fourth place is Brazil with just shy of 400,000 prisoners (BBC, 2019). In terms of incarceration population the US certainly takes the top spot among all nations of the rate. But in terms of incarceration rate, i.e., the total percentage of its population locked away, the US still takes the top spothigher even than oppressive regimes like the one in El Salvador, Cuba, Thailand or Rwanda. The US imprisons 655 people for every 100,000 people in the country (Radu, 2019). Overall, the US represents 4.4% of the worlds population and yet it accounts for 22% of the worlds prison population (Walmsley, 2013). This sad state of affairs for the US should indicate that there is something drastically problematic either with American culture or with the American justice systemor both, as Davis (2012) argues. Considering that 37% of Americas prison population is black, though blacks are only 12% of the US population total (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2014), it would seem that Davis (2012) is correct in her argument that the prison industrial complex in America is running amok and is feeding on the lives of the marginalized and most oppressed people in the nationthe African-American community.

Over the whole world, there are more than 10 million individuals incarcerated at any given timemany of them as pre-trial detainees. The US along with China and Russia account for nearly half of these prisoners (Walmsley, 2013). These three countries make up the largest top tier incarceration nations in all the world. It is telling that the US should rank at the top of the list, outstripping both China and Russia, who have reputations for repressive regimes. The US on the other hand touts itself around the world as being the beacon of freedom, equality and democracy. Its prison population tells a different story, however.

It is that story that Davis (2012) tries to tell in her activism against the prison industrial complex. That complex consists of public and private (i.e., for profit) prisons, which use prisoners as a source of labor contracted out to American corporations. In other words, the prison industrial complex has created a new form of plantation slavery, with prisoners in the American Gulag serving the will of the American corporations and receiving pennies on the dollar for their labor (Pelaez, 2019).

The fact that the USs prison population…the US at the federal level and with the states at the state level. The goal of this relationship is to make sure that a steady stream of prisoners is continuously fed into the system (Davis, 2012).

In Russia and China, the emphasis is more on social control rather than on business. The US approaches incarceration from the standpoint of business, which is evident in the fact that the prisons are privatized to a high rate in the US. In China, the prisons are state owned and operated, and in Russia the trappings of the old Soviet empire still prevail in many ways, particularly in the criminal justice system there. Russias justice system created the idea of a Gulag, as described by Solzhenitsyn in his memoirs, and the American system today is resembling more and more that same Gulag stylejust at a greater scale, primarily because the US has a higher population and because the US is more business-oriented in general.

In conclusion, the US has the highest percentage of its population behind bars in the whole world. It has the highest number of prisoners among all nations in the world. It also has the more than 20% of the worlds prison population. Those startling figures should be an indication of the extent to just how free and equal the US really is, but they can also be…

Sources Used in Documents:


BBC. (2019). World prison populations. Retrieved from Incarceration Rates in the United States Versus Other Countries. Retrieved from

Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2014). Prisoners in 2013. Retrieved from

Davis, A. (2012). The Meaning of Freedom. San Francisco, CA: City Light Books.

Pelaez, V. (2019). The Prison Industry in the United States: Big Business or a New Form of Slavery? Retrieved from

Radu, S. (2019). Countries with the highest incarceration rate. Retrieved from

Wagner, P. & Sawyer, W. (2018). States of incarceration. Retrieved from

Walmsley, R. (2013). World prison population list. Retrieved from

Cite this Document:

"The US Has More People In Jail Than Any Other Nation" (2020, April 28) Retrieved June 30, 2022, from

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"The US Has More People In Jail Than Any Other Nation", 28 April 2020, Accessed.30 June. 2022,

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