Crime & Punishment
The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world. As of December 31, 2010, the International Centre for Prison Studies (ICPS) at King's College London estimated 2,266,832 prisoners from a total population of 310.64 million as of this date (730 per 100,000 in 2010). In comparison, Russia had the second highest, at 577 per 100,000, Canada was 123rd in the world as 117 per 100,000, and China had 120 per 100,000. A recent article by Fareed Zakaria also shows that Japan has 63 per 100,000, Germany has 90, France has 96, South Korea has 97, and ­Britain has 153. In the same article it states that in 1980, the US had 150 per 100,000, so why the increase - the war on drugs. Drug convictions represent half the inmate population. Some have said that the US had more people in prison than Stalin had in his gulags. Watch out for extremist rhetoric like this. Stalin reported killed 20m people, so you wont find them in his prison population numbers. There is also much written today justifiably about wrongful convictions overturned by DNA evidence years later. According to the Innocence Project 292 convictions have been overturned by DNA evidence. While each one of these wrongful convictions is a travesty and the causes must be corrected immediately, it represents only .0001269% of the total prisoner population. Some wild extrapolations estimate up to 20,000 wrongful convictions, or about 1%. So the much maligned American justice system gets 99.% right in the worst case extrapolation. Though I could find no statistics, this is probably the #1 effectiveness rate in the world, too. Anyone would like a 99% winning percentage, but we can and should still do better. Also, within three years of their release, 67% of former prisoners are rearrested and 52% are re-incarcerated, a recidivism rate that is alarming. Plus, African Americans are imprisoned at a rate roughly seven times higher than whites, and Hispanics at a rate three times higher than whites, giving rise to racial profiling accusations and poverty as justification, but interestingly no other reasoning for this high percentage is publicly debated. More than 60% of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities. For Black males in their thirties, 1 in every 10 is in prison or jail on any given day, and some say it is a higher rate than were slaves in 1850. These trends have been intensified by the disproportionate impact of the "war on drugs," in which two-thirds of all persons in prison for drug offenses are people of color. There is clearly much to do in this country to improve our criminal justice system. Below and in the sub-category of cyberattacks, you will see both sides debate the issue. The Gray Area believes the "Right on Crime" Statement of Principles is the best blueprint we have seen to reform the American Criminal Justice system. Also, the Overcriminalization guide prepared by The Heritage Foundation is an eye opener.

Cleveland Wins

By James Freeman,
from The Wall Street Journal,

Just in time for 9/11, a football team makes peace with local heroes.

Long-suffering fans of the National Football League’s Cleveland Browns saw their team lose another home opener on Sunday. But players gave the crowd reason to cheer—both before and after kick-off. After finishing 1-15 last season, the Browns made significant personnel changes and are now fielding the youngest team in the league. On Sunday, the squad showed poise and potential despite losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers. And even during the pre-game, players showed encouraging improvement the moment they emerged from the locker room. According to USA Today: Cleveland Browns players stood for the national anthem and locked arms with law enforcement and military personnel before Sunday’s season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Police officers, military personnel and firefighters also ran out of the Browns’ tunnel to cheers prior to the game. A video featuring messages from players appealing for unity was also played before the anthem. This was a welcome change to many fans, who witnessed the spectacle of roughly a dozen Browns players kneeling during the national anthem at an August preseason game. The players were protesting alleged racial discrimination in the U.S, including among law enforcement. There was a certain irony holding such a protest in Cleveland because the city has a black police chief and a black judge presiding over its municipal court system. The other irony is that many NFL teams have permitted players to express themselves in this manner, even though the league can and does regulate much of what players can do and say on the field. As employees have learned in many other industries, the First Amendment prevents government from limiting our speech, but businesses are free to set conditions on those who voluntarily choose to work for them. The result in the NFL was a bizarre situation in which players could get flagged for taunting one opposing player but not for offending tens of millions of customers.

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