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On March 14, the Prison Policy Initiative, a Massachusetts-based non-profit organization that reports on issues relating to incarceration, released the tenth-anniversary edition of its annual report “Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie.” The report provides some interesting insights as to the state of affairs inside the world’s leading “democracy” and guardian of the international “rules-based order.”

Based on data for the year 2023, the report states that “[T]he U.S. doesn’t have one criminal legal system; instead, we have thousands of federal, state, local, and tribal systems. Together, these systems hold over 1.9 million people in 1,566 state prisons, 98 federal prisons, 3,116 local jails, 1,323 juvenile correctional facilities, 142 immigration detention facilities, and 80 Indian country jails, as well as in military prisons, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories—at a system-wide cost of at least $182 billion each year.” (Emphasis in original.)

This works out to an incarceration rate of 583 per 100,000. Although down somewhat from past years, when the U.S. had the highest incarceration rate in the word, today only a handful of small countries have higher rates, including El Salvador, Cuba, Rwanda, Turkmenistan, and American Samoa. (By comparison, the Russian Federation has an incarceration rate of 300 per 100,000 and China 126 per 100,000.)

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