by Doug Saunders
Globe and Mail
Saturday, June 9th, 2012
“The United States now has, by a wide margin, the highest incarceration rate in the world. There are 2.3 million Americans in prison or jail, more than three in 100 Americans are in the penal system – and half of those are black. More than 8 per cent of black men, and an astonishing 37 per cent of black men without high-school education, are in prison. By 18, one quarter of all black American children will have seen one of their parents behind bars.
Prison has now supplanted education and welfare as the main social service provided to the disenfranchised. Blacks are seven times more likely than whites to be in prison. It’s self-perpetuating, because imprisonment increases rates of criminality, poverty, educational failure and family breakup.
But Americans do not see these effects. Prisoners don’t appear on the census, the unemployment-rate, educational-attainment records or the voting rolls.”