US Prison Population: The Largest in the World

The United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world—more even than China or Russia. In fact, more people are in prisons in the United States than in all other developed countries combined. Professor Daniel J. D’Amico explains that as of 2010 over 1.6 million people were serving jail sentences in America.

What does this say about the United States? Professor D’Amico suggests that “prisons are not what we think about when we think of America, and they shouldn’t have to be.”  According to D’Amico, a free country should not have 1.6 million people in prison, and a fiscally responsible country cannot afford to. As Prof. D’Amico points out, it is time for Americans to recognize that the U.S. criminal justice system is desperately in need of reform.


Discussion Questions:

1. What are the causes for the unusually high incarceration rate in the United States?
2. Do you think prisons are an effective way of handling crime?
3. What alternatives or reforms to the current prison system can you imagine for handling crime more effectively?


  1. agavin2342

    I agree with him 100% that our criminal justice system is in need of reform. Prison shouldn’t be a place to just lock people up, but a place where they foster rehabilitation in the future to prevent recidivism in our prisons. People often forget or don’t care what happens when the judge gives the sentence, bangs his or her gavel, and the individual is locked up–we need to fix this, because once we do, there will be a better model to prevent crime in the future by teaching those who have made those mistakes. 

  2. spacepan

    Instead of people talking about medical marijuana as a baby-step toward ending the war on drugs, we should talk about ending the war on drugs as a baby-step toward reparations for drug war victims.


    […] The ruling class in America “rules by law” evidenced by the horrifying fact that the United States has the  (read more here) largest prison population in the world.  […]

  4. Anonymous

    First of all there should be no life sentences or any sentence that would equal natural life.   If someone is such a danger to society or committed violent or heinous crime then the penalty should be death.   Why should the criminal be allowed to live, receive free housing, food, and medical care at the expense of society? 


    Next financial crimes such as theft, of money, property, assets.  Then the criminals  assets are confiscated and used to pay back losses to the victims.   If all the losses are paid back plus 10% then no prison time is needed.  If the assets are not available the criminal will have to work in servitude till the debts are paid. 


    Now we also need to rethink the war on drugs.  Use of drugs  marijuana cocaine, and others should be decriminalized .   The sale of drugs should be regulated and taxed.  For the more dangerous drugs a prescription should be required.  


    The above changes would eliminate the majority of our prison population.  




  5. GeF

    Reform rehabilitation

  6. GeF

    learn from Portugal , drug policy

  7. Anonymous

    I believe that CNN might have been right last week when they stated that the Black community is raising their children up in a very bigoted and prejudiced home as compared to any other ethic group.  They are taught at a early age that the Whites, Asians, Mexicans and every other group are horrible and that they need to hate them.  They are taught to live off the government and commit crime to support themselves.  They are told not to obey the law since it was made by other ethnic groups.  And therefore, they are doomed to have a nice life.  And most of the successful black people are looked down on since they are living and working along with all the other ethic groups.  I really believe that if the great Dr. Martin Luther King jr would have lived he would have united all of America’s ethic groups with out any violence.  Every one please raise your children to love everybody no matter who they are and our jails and prisons will close since they will be empty.

  8. Anonymous

    i believe prison should be restricted to folks that represent a danger to others – violent offenders that did not act in the context of unique circumstances. There are other ways to punish folks by taking away fundamental rights. Prison should be used to segregate sociopaths from the rest of us.

    This however won’t likely change the racial makeup of folks in prison. Dr. D’Amico has several videos on this subject and calls for “radical” reforms. But I have yet to hear him articulate a specific reason or reason(s) for this problem, much less articulate a solution.

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