May 11, 2003

Terrorism at Home

The 19th-century novelist Feodor Dostoevski, a political prisoner in Russia for four years, wrote: "The degree to which a society is civilized can be judged by entering its prisons." No wonder we want to avert our eyes from ours.
This ends an essay on prison rape by Richard Lowry that Ampersand points out.

Lowry appears to tell us that we should take a closer look at this society that so many hold up to be the guiding light to the rest of the world. In the first part of the article he notes that there are 2,000,000 people in US jails. This number is astounding....what society puts this many in jail?

Maybe this is not so bad. Let's check and see what things are like elsewhere in the world:
In 1995 Russia had 1,017,372 inmates and jailed folks at the rate of 690 per 100,000

The US had 1,585,401 inmates and jailed folks at the rate of 600. This rate is higher then DOJ figures.

Belarus had 52,033 inmates and jailed folks at the rate of 505 per 100,000
The rate drops off dramatically after this. We are in fine company: the two great cold war opponents slugging it out to see whose gulags can be the fullest. Dostoevski would not be thrilled by either.

Yes, the problem of rape in prisons should be dealt with. Perhaps if rape dealt with effectively out here in 'free' society there will, then, be some prospect of it being dealt with inside.

But before either will be effectively dealt with the terrorism that places 2,000,000 americans in jail must be eliminated. Posted by Steve on May 11, 2003
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