We have all heard about the United States “war on drugs,” but have we really taken the time to scrutinize the effects? Are prosecutors too eager to incarcerate people? According to an American Civil Liberties Union study, the answer is yes, and a lot of money is being spent to keep up with the number of people who are sentenced to a jail term, often for a nonviolent crime like drug possession.
According to the ACLU study that compiled statistics gathered from across the world, the United States is an international leader when it comes to incarcerating their population. While U.S. citizens make up on 5 percent of the world population, our incarcerated population comprises about 25 percent of the entire world’s prison populace.
While the world statistics are enough to make you cringe, what is even more shocking is that the prison system was developed to keep our communities safe and yet approximately 50 percent of those who are incarcerated have been convicted of nonviolent crimes.
During the economic recession, budgeting has become the focus of many discussions. As a part of the study, the ACLU found that in only two short decades, the United States government has increased the spending for prisons by about 127 percent. The number alone is shocking, but in comparison to how much was budgeted for educating our youth, it is even more astounding. The federal budget allocated only a 21 percent increase for education from 1987 to 2007.
As our prison population grows at a rate of about 700 percent, it is important to keep in mind the absolute necessity of obtaining experienced legal counsel who can protect your rights and ensure that you get the justice you really deserve should you become the subject of a criminal investigation.
Source: American Civil Liberties Union, “Combating Mass Incarceration – The Facts,” 17 June 2011