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We’re Number One!

This is a map showing incarceration rate (number of prisoners per 100,000 population). Note that it doesn’t even include all prisoners in the US — it leaves out prisoners in juvenile detention, prisoners held in US Territories (which I presume includes Guantanamo), jails contracted by the US Marshals Service, and jails in Indian country.


Actually, the title of this post is ever so slightly wrong. There is one tiny country – so small and low in population that you might not have even heard about it – that has more prisoners per capita than we do. But if I announced that we are number two, we might take that as a challenge.

And we call ourselves the land of the free.



  1. Anonymous wrote:

    Is a person selling drugs violating the rights of others? I don’t think so.

    Is a full grown 50 year old man violating the rights of others when he rapes an eight year old and keeps on raping her while the mother looks the other way until the girl or boy is old enough to tell someone else in authority? That man can’t offend if in prison.

    Should Bernie Maddoff be in prison where he cannot then take the life savings of a trusting person? I think so.

    Those who violate the rights of others need to be in prison where they can’t take others’ rights away.

    Should a black person be thrown in a jail wagon because he looked a policeman in the eye, then shaken until his spine breaks? “Slavery by another name.” That policeman needs to be in prison as he is violating the rights of Freddie Grey. The policeman can not do that to anyone else.

    Sunday, April 26, 2015 at 6:32 am | Permalink
  2. Ray wrote:

    The Seychelles are ahead of us?!?!? Time to get cracking Mr. Policeman! Stop killing black kids and start arresting their minority asses! We need to be over 1,000/100,000! We are exceptional, we need to be NUMBER ONE!

    /snark off

    Sunday, April 26, 2015 at 8:42 am | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    Anonymous, should people who lie their country into war be in jail. You betcha!

    The examples you give are not the problem. The problem is all the people who are in jail for victimless crimes, like personal drug use.

    Sunday, April 26, 2015 at 10:12 am | Permalink
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    We all agree Bush/cheney/rumsfeld belong in jail forever. Every day Bush gets more notches on his gun “20 more killed by bomb in Iraq’ ok, those that got so rich don’t agree. What do they care about the carnage?

    Sunday, April 26, 2015 at 3:34 pm | Permalink
  5. Joe Blow wrote:

    Hey anon.

    So why the discrepancy between the USA and most of the rest of the first world ?

    Wednesday, April 29, 2015 at 2:30 am | Permalink
  6. Bill wrote:

    If you’ll notice, a lot of the really low rates of incarceration are in impoverished parts of Africa. That’s because many of African governments are either well intended but cannot afford to enforce the law or are run buy affluent warlords who have no wish to. It is kind of odd to hear people say that lower incarceration rates are somehow better. The U.S. could have the lowest incarceration rate in the world if it never jailed anyone for crime. Someone rape you? too bad, we want lower incarceration rates, so we’ll let ’em go. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to live in a country like that? The reason the U.S. has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world is that the government is stable, resource-rich, and it is able to systematically jail thieves, rapists, murderers, etc…

    Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 1:39 pm | Permalink