In the United States, one phrase that almost everyone is enamored with is that we’re “The Land of the Free.” It’s a nice sounding phrase. A feel-good phrase we use to describe ourselves, but it begs the question. Are we really free? That of course depends on how you look at it.
On paper, yes, we’ve got rights enshrined in our founding documents that you won’t find anywhere else on Earth. In the day to day world we live in, that’s a harder call to make. It’s hard to talk about freedom with a straight face when you consider that the NSA is snooping on literally everyone from suspected terrorists to your own grandmother, and we’ve got an increasingly militarized police force.
After a while, you have to wonder just how free we really are. Most people are aware that the US locks a lot of people up, but have you ever actually seen the numbers? If you haven’t, here they are, but a word of warning, you’re not going to like what you see.
The total US prison population is 2.19 million. The exact number at last count was 2,193,798. In isolation, it’s hard to know if that number is good or bad. There’s no context for it, so let’s give it some. Here are some other numbers to compare it to.
We have approximately one third the population of China. China’s total prison population is 1,548,498. If that sounds a little terrifying, it should, but that’s just the tip of the proverbial ice berg. It gets much, much worse.
The United States has more people behind bars than the nations of Brazil, India, Mexico, Ukraine (even after all the political upheaval) crime-riddled South Africa, Poland, England/Wales, Japan, Kenya, Turkey, Nigeria, Australia, Scotland and North Ireland combined. Collectively, those nations have a population even larger than China’s, and yet, they only have 1,674,722 total prisoners between them, or about 75% of the total number of people we’ve got behind bars here.
Did you see some of the nations on that list? Some of them are places that are overflowing with violence and bloodshed. Many are famous (or rather, infamous) for being totalitarian states that brook no dissent whatsoever, and lock up any who oppose the powers that be, and yet, we trump them all, combined.
Does the US have an addiction to locking people up? Some would certainly argue that. The point is, you don’t even have to have done anything wrong to find yourself suddenly and unexpected in need of legal help.
John W. Tumelty has over 30 years of experience defending the rights of NJ residents facing criminal charges. If you or someone you love has gotten into legal trouble, contact the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty today.