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The Economist: Rough Justice in America

22nd July 2010

Justice is harsher in America than in any other rich country. Between 2.3 million and 2.4 million Americans are behind bars, roughly one in every 100 adults. If those on parole or probation are included, one adult in 31 is under “correctional” supervision. As a proportion of its total population, America incarcerates five times more people than Britain, nine times more than Germany and 12 times more than Japan. Furthermore, overcrowding is the norm. Federal prisons house 60% more inmates than they were designed for. Rigid mandatory drug sentencing laws have only served to make the problem of overcrowding worse. It is clear that punitive justice measures are deeply entrenched in the USA.

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