10 In Depth Facts About Mass Incarcer...

Learn more about the United States' mass incarceration problem through these in depth facts.

10 In Depth Facts About Mass Incarceration

Learn more about the United States' mass incarceration problem through these in depth facts.

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While the video in the Encounter gives an overview of the United States' mass incarceration problem, these facts will allow you to dive deeper into the issue.

  1. The United States has the highest incarcerated population in the world with 716 out of 100,000 citizens behind bars.
  2. Twenty-two states have a higher percentage of incarcerated people than the U.S. in total. Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the world, incarcerating 1,341 people for every 100,000 residents.
  3. Solitary confinement is the practice of isolating people in closed cells for 22-24 hours a day, virtually free of human contact, for periods of time ranging from days to decades. This practice is done in prisons for punitive, disciplinary or purportedly protective reasons.
  4. Currently available estimates suggest between 80,000 to 100,000 incarcerated persons are held in some form of isolated confinement.
  5. The U.N. has claimed that solitary confinement for more than 15 days can be considered torture.  They have called for the practice of solitary confinement to be banned around the world. 
  6. The U.N. has been seeking permission to visit people in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons from the State Department for over two years. These requests have been denied.
  7. In the federal system, Thomas Silverstein (described as America’s “most isolated man”) has been held in solitary confinement under a “no human contact” order for 32 years.
  8. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, “The majority of Bureau of Prison (BOP) inmates in private prisons are sentenced criminal aliens who may be deported upon completion of their sentence.” 
  9. Private prisons profit from the number of incarcerated persons in their facilities. In a 2010 Annual Report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison company, stated: "The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by . . . leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices . . . ."
  10. The United States is the world's leader in incarceration with 2.2 million people currently in the nation's prisons or jails -- a 500% increase over the past thirty years.

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