This is a post to recognize the 40th anniversary of the day in 1971 that President Nixon declared that the U.S. government would start waging a
"War on Drugs" war on peaceful Americans who chose to use intoxicants not approved of by the U.S. government
(HT: Don B.).
Q: Which repressive country puts the most people in jail for violating government laws?
B. Saudi Arabia
E. United States of America
Well, it's not even close..............
The table above shows how the 2010 U.S. prison incarceration rate (prisoners per 100,000 population) compares to some of the roughest countries in the world. The full list of 216 countries is here, the countries above were selected as some of the world's most repressive regimes (Iran, Saudi Arabia and Libya), some of the world's least economically free countries (Venezuela, Turkmenistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, according to the Heritage Foundation), and some countries with the biggest narco-terrorism problems (Colombia and Mexico).
But none of them even come close to the incarceration rate of the World's #1 Jailer - the United States, largely because of the "
|World Rank, 2010||Country||Prisoners per 100,000 Population |
|198||Pakistan||45|War on Drugs" war against peaceful Americans using intoxicants currently not approved of by the U.S. government (see chart below).
Note that in the full list of countries
, neighboring Canada ranks #124 (117 prisoners per 100,000), and countries with liberalized drug laws like Portugal rank #128 (112 per 100,000) and Netherlands ranks #145 (94 per 100,000).
Update: AIG claims that "There is ZERO evidence that this greater number of prisoners in the U.S. is due to the war on drugs." Here is some evidence:
1. "A major cause of such high numbers of prisoners in the United States system is that it has much longer sentences than any other part of the world. The typical mandatory sentence for a first-time drug offense in federal court is five or ten years, compared to other developed countries around the world where a first time offense would warrant at most 6 months in jail.
Mandatory sentencing prohibits judges from using their discretion and forces them to place longer sentences on nonviolent offenses than they normally would have."
2. "One of the biggest contributors to the United States' spike is the war on drugs. Around 1980, the United States had 40,000 people in prison for drug crimes. After the passage of Reagan's Anti-Drug Abuse Act in 1986, incarceration for non-violent offenses dramatically increased. Part of the legislation included the implementation of mandatory minimum sentences for "the distribution of cocaine, including far more severe punishment for distribution of crack—associated with blacks—than powder cocaine, associated with whites."
Under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, users of powder cocaine can possess up to 100 times more substance than users of crack, while facing the same mandatory sentence.
The Anti-Drug Act targeted low-level street dealers, which had a disproportionate effect on poor blacks, Latinos, the young, and women.
The United States houses over 500,000 prisoners for these crimes. Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance said, "We now imprison more people for drug law violations than all of Western Europe (with a much larger population) incarcerates for all offenses."