What makes the US Prison Industry is the largest in the world?
5 Reasons Why The US Prison Industry Is The Largest In The World
By Eric Screven
In 1865 when President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in states of rebellion, and the 13th Amendment was ratified into the Constitution, it was an attempt to weaken the confederacy, and not an act of goodwill. It did eventually become that when white, wealthy abolitionists, as well as the significant role of Frederick Douglass, influenced Lincoln that the men who were now freed should be allowed to fight to free their families they ran from to join his Union Troops in the North. The rest is history. The tide of the battles changed. The Union won the war and was on the path to restoring the country to being united again.
However, the 13th Amendment had a loophole that Southerners exploited. Black Codes saw “Black” boys, and men being snatched away from their homes to do long, and/or life sentences in prison. At first, it was for the rebuilding effort in the South where most of the war took place, but then it became a rigid racial system that could be exploited to lock “Black” men in prison and keep them away from their families. Since the end of slavery, the US prison industry complex has grown exponentially as a result.
The United States prison industrial complex is widely recognized as the largest in the world, with a significant impact on society and criminal justice. While the country only accounts for 5% of the world’s population, it has over 25%-30% of the world’s prisoners. Here are five reasons for its massive scale:
1. Mass Incarceration Policies:
The implementation of tough-on-crime policies, such as mandatory minimum sentences and three-strikes laws, has contributed to the exponential growth of the prison population in the United States. These policies focus on punishment rather than rehabilitation, leading to longer sentences and higher rates of incarceration.
2. War on Drugs:
The War on Drugs, initiated in the 1970s, has played a significant role in fueling the expansion of the prison industrial complex. Strict drug laws and harsh sentencing for drug-related offenses have disproportionately affected minority communities, leading to high rates of incarceration for non-violent drug offenses.
3. For-Profit Prisons:
The rise of for-profit prisons has created a profit-driven motive for incarceration. These private companies generate revenue based on the number of prisoners they house, incentivizing high incarceration rates. Critics argue that the profit motive undermines the goal of rehabilitation and promotes the perpetuation of the prison industrial complex.
4. Racial Disparities:
The United States has a long-standing issue of racial disparities within the criminal justice system. African Americans and Hispanics are disproportionately represented in the prison population compared to their white counterparts. Factors such as biased policing, sentencing disparities, and socioeconomic inequalities contribute to these racial disparities in incarceration rates.
5. Lack of Rehabilitation and Reentry Programs:
The focus on punishment rather than rehabilitation is a significant factor in the expansion of the prison industrial complex. Insufficient funding for education, job training, and mental health services within prisons hinders successful reintegration into society. Without adequate support systems, formerly incarcerated individuals face numerous barriers that increase the likelihood of recidivism.
It is important to note that these reasons are not exhaustive, and addressing the prison industrial complex requires comprehensive reform efforts focusing on sentencing policies, drug laws, racial inequalities, and the provision of effective rehabilitation and reentry programs. Furthermore, it needs to be acknowledged in the inner city and/or at-risk community schools via a curriculum that focuses on life skills, and building vocations that help to assist as a preventive method for youth who might choose the lifestyle of crime for themselves.