Tuesday, March 18, 2008

US, European incarceration rates compared

Concluding the Pew report (pg 36) on the US prison population is a graph depicting incarceration rates for selected countries. The US is situated on top, with a rate of 750 people per 100,000 locked up. In a distant second is Russia, with 628 per. The rest of the countries listed, with the exception of Azerbaijan and Turkey, are European.

The US is distinct from its European counterparts in a way that invariably leads to it performing poorly by most any comparitve measure of social pathologies. That distinction is that 28% of the US population is black or Hispanic. If members of these groups were incarcerated at the same rate as whites are, the US drops to 402 per 100,000 people*.

That puts the US next to Georgia, below Russia and Belarus. Still near the top and higher than Western Europe, due to mandatory sentencing guidelines and harsh punishments for drug-related offenses relative to those meted out on the Old Continent, but within the broader European range instead of towering above it.

* This assumes that Asians are incarcerated at the same rate as whites. The Pew report does not make mention of this inconvenient group once in 37 pages. If the prison rate for Asians is assumed to be the same rate relative to whites as the violent crime rate is, while blacks and Hispanics are assumed to land in jail at the same rate as whites, the national rate drops to 389 people per 100,000.

8 comments:

Fat Knowledge said...

Interesting analysis, but I still think the US rate is high. Looks like the Western European rate of imprisonment is about 100 per 100,000 which makes the US white rate about 4 times as high.

Nordic Minnesota at 300 per 100,000 has a rate 3.8 times that of Sweden (at 79).

Comparing multi-racial societies, South Africa has a rate of 413 per 100,000 and Brazil has a rate of 183.

The real question to me though is whether imprisoning this many people is a good use of 40 billion tax dollars a year, or if there is a cheaper way to keep crime rates low.

icr said...

Comparing multi-racial societies, South Africa has a rate of 413 per 100,000 and Brazil has a of 183.

Yeah, but we don't want to replicate in the US the horrendous level of crime in South Africa nor the semi-anarchy that prevails in much of urban Brazil.

Two years ago in Brazil the criminal gangs launched a large-scale 4GW-type attack against the authorities:
Gang violence grips Brazil state
Attacks are continuing in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo where a wave of co-ordinated violence since Friday has left at least 81 people dead.
Overnight, gangs torched buses, targeted banks and maintained their attacks on police patrols and stations.

(...)

Authorities say the unrest is being directed from inside jail by a criminal gang after hundreds of its members were sent to maximum security prisons.

Correspondents say the violence is an escalation of what many in Sao Paulo are calling a war between the state authorities and the First Command of the Capital (PCC) criminal faction.
(...)

icr said...

Nordic Minnesota at 300 per 100,000 has a rate 3.8 times that of Sweden (at 79).

I doubt if even a slim majority of Minnesota whites are of wholly Scandinavian descent. Minnesota has a lot of "Irish", "Germans" and "Poles". Plus a lot of Hispanic mestizos-who routinely declare themselves as "white" to the Census Bureau.

MN has sizeable numbers of Somalis, Hmong, African-Americans and Hispanics. I wonder how much do they contribute to the incarceration rate? But then Sweden has its Muslims.

No matter how you demographically sort it out, I don't see Sweden as a potential model:
http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/
2008/03/totalitarian-sweden.html

Anonymous said...

The real question to me though is whether imprisoning this many people is a good use of 40 billion tax dollars a year, or if there is a cheaper way to keep crime rates low.

Sure there is. We'd actually save money(and lives) as well. Just don't let these 3rd worlders in in the first place and get rid of forced integration. I don't see this happening though. All of us must benefit from diversity even if it costs us our lives, limbs or property.

Audacious Epigone said...

FK,

Yes, however I look at it, the US white incarceration rate is still high relative to Western Europe. I'd guess greater wealth disparity, harsher punishments for drug-related offenses, more mandatory sentencing, and a younger population all relative to Western Europe factors into this.

As far as the value of such high incarceration, as Anon suggested, a change in immigration policies is an obvious place to start.

Re: Minnesota, to augment what ICR said, blacks are over 30x more likely to be imprisoned than whites are, the greatest disparity of any state in the country (DC is even higher). This suggests a non-black imprisonment rate of about 130 in Minnesota.

That stat is from a decade ago, over a period of time in which black crime has come down a little faster than white crime has. So maybe it is 150 or so--still considerably higher than Scandanavia.

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