The number of people in jail or in prison in the United States is far higher than what you’ll find in many other countries. This is often referred to as mass incarceration. While some disagree with the idea that the prison population is too large, it’s impossible not to see that it is an outlier.
So why is this? What is it about the United States that makes it so that such a large percentage of the population gets arrested, charged, convicted and jailed?
There are a few reasons. One is the so-called “War on Drugs”, which has made many drugs illegal. Even in states where drugs like marijuana are now legal — and those states are in the minority — it’s still illegal at the federal level. The focus on arresting people for drug use has caused the prison population to balloon. That’s not to say that drug use is always legal in countries with smaller prison populations, but just that they don’t put such an emphasis on it.
Another issue is that the length of prison terms has been trending up. If someone gets 10 years instead of 5 years, they double the amount of time they spend behind bars for the same offense. This could increase the prison population even if the number of arrests per year stayed exactly the same.
Many experts agree that mass incarceration is a problem. And yet it continues, as the justice system seems set on arrested and jailing Americans at a high rate. Those who find themselves facing charges under this system need to know what defense options they have. An experienced defense is the best way to protect your future.