Thursday, June 20, 2024
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No, the United States Does Not Have a Mass Incarceration Problem

Left-wing activists argue that the United States locks up too many people….especially too many black people.

But the left is wrong. Mass incarceration is a myth. 

This is according to a new study that the Heritage Foundation published late last month. Authors Charles Stimson and Jack Smith say that, in fact, the United States locks up too few people. 

“While the United States does lock up more people than many other countries, the United States also—sadly—suffers from much higher violent crime rates,” Smith and Stimson wrote.

“There may be sociological reasons why this remains true, but it does not change the fact that once someone commits a violent felony or other serious crime, justice usually demands they do the time.”

Citing FBI statistics, Smith and Stimson said that in 2015 the United States had an estimated 1,197,704 violent crimes. That dwarfed the number of violent crimes in Canada, the European Union, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand combined.

Victims do not report all crimes. Police do not make arrests for all reported crimes. Prosecutors do not prosecute all of those arrested. Juries do not convict all of those prosecuted.

Furthermore, only a fraction of people who commit crimes are imprisoned, even people who commit violent crimes.

Smith and Stimson also said that the people who push the mass incarceration myth seek to divide the United States along racial lines. The U.S. criminal justice system is not racist.

“Criminals commit a lot of violent crimes in the United States. And sadly, young black men commit many of those crimes—often against other young black men. So, high incarceration rates—even among young black men—are not the result of police or prosecutors targeting these individuals, but they instead are the result of criminal conduct,” Smith and Stimson wrote.

“But those who believe in mass incarceration refuse to believe that these individuals are truly culpable for the crimes they committed and instead place the blame on systemic racism that they believe is inherent and endemic to our criminal justice system.”

Predominantly black neighborhoods, the authors went on to write, have a higher frequency of crimes and a higher concentrations of criminals.

“They are also theaters for so-called street crime, e.g., corner drug sales, theft, mugging, murder, etc., that are more readily detectable and subject to enforcement than subtler offenses like white collar crime,” the study said.

“Routinely, police departments receive calls about criminal activity from predominately black neighborhoods; police officers, of course, respond to those calls.”

Nor is it true that black offenders routinely get longer sentences than non-black offenders for comparable crimes.

The study said that most black inmates are incarcerated for violent offenses.

As of 2021, of the state prisoners incarcerated for murder:

• 11.5 percent were white

• 14.2 percent were Hispanic

• 18.7 percent were black. 

• Whites, as a percentage, far outnumbered blacks and Hispanics for rape and sexual assault, burglary, larceny/theft, and drug possession. 

“There would be no simpler way of ensuring that black Americans were permanently confined to a lower social caste than to turn a blind eye to the crime that bedevils their communities,” according to the study.

Special thanks to Warhammer’s Wife proofreading this story before publication to make certain there were no misspellings, grammatical errors or other embarrassing mistakes and/or typosFollow Warhammer on Twitter @Real_Warhammer