The state of Massachusetts has a reputation of being fairly liberal. It is even known forhaving one of the lowest ten incarceration rates in the country (the Sentencing Project). According to the Sentencing Project, the state has a rate of 200 prisoners in jail per population of 100,000. That sounds very impressive compared to state of Georgia’s rate of 547/100,000 \and the nation’s overall rate of 760/100,000. That is until you consider some the European and Asian rates: “Japan has 63 per 100,000, Germany has 90, France has 96, South Korea has 97, and Britain–with a rate among the highest–has 153.” (Time).
Our state should not strive simply for the status of one of the lowest incarceration rates in the country with the highest incarceration rate in the world. We should be working towards having one of the lowest incarceration rates overall.
In this era of globalization, the United States is not an island alone in the world, insignificant to other countries. As an economic superpower and supposed leader in human rights, the world sees how we treat our offenders, and some have followed suit. The British judicial system has shifted from its’ 1991 Criminal Justice Act, which “recognized the limited impact of incarceration on crime and called for a halt of the growth of the prison system,” through the work government officials Tony Blair and Michael Howard (Mauer 14). England and Wales together reached a prison population of almost 85,000 in 2010, a ninety percent increase since 1993 (www.Parliament.uk). This extends beyond Britain, however, as proposals are made in the Czech Republic for a “three-strikes” policy similar to that of California (Mauer 14).
If it was not enough that we are misallocating resources by caging up our criminals instead of addressing the problems within our society, our foolishness is now spreading. We must consider the impact our choices make upon other countries around the world. If we do not reduce the disparities between international incarceration rates and our own by decreasing our prison populations, we may end up inspiring increases in other countries.
Mauer, Marc. Race to Incarcerate. New York: The New Press, 2006. Print.