Argument: War on Drugs imprisons too many people

Issue Report: War on Drugs


Ben Kage. “United States imprisons more people than China, Russia or any other nation, experts say.” Natural News. December 13, 2006: “(NaturalNews) Criminal justice experts from the U.S. Justice Department report that the United States has the largest prison population and highest incarceration rate in the world due to factors such as tough sentencing laws, record drug offender arrests and high crime rates.

A report released by the justice department on Nov. 30 reported 1 in every 32 American adults — or a record 7 million people — were incarcerated, on probation or on parole at the end of 2005, with 2.2 million of them in prison or jail. The International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College, London reported that this number was the highest of any country, with China ranking second with 1.5 million prisoners, and Russia sitting in third with 870,000. The United States also has the highest incarceration rate at 737 per 100,000 people, compared to nearest country Russia’s 611 per 100,000 and St. Kitts and Nevis’ 547.

Groups calling for U.S. sentencing law reform are pointing to these numbers and others that show inmate populations are rising faster than prisoners are released.

“The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s incarcerated population. We rank first in the world in locking up our fellow citizens,” said Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance, which supports alternatives in the war on drugs. “We now imprison more people for drug law violations than all of Western Europe, with a much larger population, incarcerates for all offenses.”