There is overrepresentation of people of color in American criminal justice system (parole, jail, probation). According to Clear, Cole & Reisig (2008, p.471), “African American men are imprisoned in United States at a rate more than three times higher than white males.” In addition, male population under the criminal justice system is higher than female population. The prison system in the US, especially in relation to mass imprisonment has led to collapse of the family units, as parents get imprisoned leaving behind their children. Indeed, the number of single parent householders has increased due to incarceration.
Thus, this paper will compare the rate of incarceration in America and other countries, explore the factors contributing to mass imprisonment, significance of gender and race in criminal justice system, and addresses cultural implication of mass imprisonment, conditions of confinement and what we can learn about the American society from the way it treats its prisoners.
The United States has a significant number of inmates compared to other nations; generally, America has 2.3 million incarcerated persons, more than other country. Russia, England, German and Japan respectively rank as countries with high rates of incarceration after the United States. Additionally, prison sentences in the USA are longer than in other nations’ prison terms. Indeed, the country employs tougher justice in hope reducing crime rate.
According to Conrad (2005, p. 223), “the rate of incarceration for the United States is 702 for every 100,000 American citizens, the highest rates in the World.” Indeed, the rate of incarceration in the United States is 5-6 times more than other industrialized countries (Mauer, 2003, p.3). The graph below illustrates the incarceration rates in US in comparison with other countries.