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Inside the borders of the United States resides a separate nation of 2.3 million people. It's a nation in constant flux, with 700,000 residents released each year, their places soon taken by 700,000 others. It's a land where the meals are free but the doors are always locked. Often, the same people keep returning to this nation, while others who've been there before are released, creating an awful human churning effect that baffles social scientists, hamstrings mayors, breaks municipal budgets and overwhelms the ability of do-gooders to adequately address.
I speak, of course, of America's prison population. Incarceration may be the only U.S. industry that enjoys unlimited growth potential. We lead the world, by a wide margin, in the number of citizens in prison. The per capita rate is six times higher than Canada, eight times that of France, and even surpasses China and Russia. According to Georgetown law professor David Cole, a new prison opens every week somewhere in America, a truly insane statistic that prompted him to suggest, "We literally cannot afford our political addiction to incarceration."
Sources: Hartford Advocate
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