If current trends continue, it means that a black male in the United States would have about a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison during his lifetime. For a Hispanic male, it's 1 in 6; for a white male, 1 in 17.
Those numbers seem to be more conservative than ones I've seen during my days debating where I'd see statistics that said half of black men have been to prison and 1 in 7 males. Here's something partially corroborate those numbers from: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/20/national/20blackmen.html
Incarceration rates climbed in the 1990's and reached historic highs in the past few years. In 1995, 16 percent of black men in their 20's who did not attend college were in jail or prison; by 2004, 21 percent were incarcerated. By their mid-30's, 6 in 10 black men who had dropped out of school had spent time in prison. In the inner cities, more than half of all black men do not finish high school.
How do you like those numbers, guys? How do you like the feeling of living in a country where you have a good chance of spending time in prison? How do you like the feeling of knowing that virtually everywhere you go you are around people who have been affected by a prison experience? And, prison isn't pretty. You have a pretty good chance of getting sick. From: http://hab.hrsa.gov/tools/openingdoors/
In the United States, 20 to 26 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), 29 to 43 percent of those infected with the hepatitis C virus, and 40 percent of those who have TB passed through correctional facilities during 1997.
Prison is a cesspool of disease where any skills, money, dignity and resources a prisoner might have are quickly erroded by a environment which doesn't prepare you for the outside world. That would explain the recidivism rates.
The United States incarcerates more people than any country in the world, including the far more populous nation of China. At the start of the new year, the American penal system held more than 2.3 million adults. China was second, with 1.5 million people behind bars, and Russia was a distant third with 890,000 inmates, according to the latest available figures.
Beyond the sheer number of inmates, America also is the global leader in the rate at which it incarcerates its citizenry, outpacing nations like South Africa and Iran. In Germany, 93 people are in prison for every 100,000 adults and children. In the U.S, the rate is roughly eight times that, or 750 per 100,000.
More than 1 in 100 adults is now locked up in America
1 in 9 black men ages 20-34 is currently behind bars.
As usual, Glenn Greenwald hits the nail on the head in pointing out the incredible double-standard that the media (in the person of Tim Russert, particularly) use when judging Democrats and Republicans. In this case, he details the bigoted, twisted, hateful rantings of Rev. John Hagee, who has endorsed and even introduced John McCain at rallies... and yet, John McCain isn't ever asked to rebuke Hagee – indeed, figures like Hagee are given respectful treatment by the media. On the other hand, Obama – who neither sought nor accepted Rev. Louis Farrakhan's endorsement – is forced to repeatedly distance himself from the Reverend's bigoted rantings.
Typically, Greenwald is difficult to excerpt (he builds up quite a head of steam), but, for the too-busy-to-click crowd, here's the nut:
Watching the media's treatment of Farrakhan and Hagee, is it possible to imagine a more transparent, and grotesque, double standard? In the framework of the Russert-led establishment press, white evangelical Christians are, by definition, entitled to great respect no matter how radical, extreme and hateful their professed views are. These are, after all, religious Christians -- People of Faith -- and, as such, it is wrong, even bigoted, to suggest that they should be repudiated. There is nothing ever radical, hateful or dangerous about the views of white evangelical Christians like Hagee.
Thus, white evangelical Ministers are free to advocate American wars based on Biblical mandates, rant hatefully against Islam, and argue that natural disasters occur because God hates gay people. They are still fit for good company, an important and cherished part of our mainstream American political system. The entire GOP establishment is permitted actively to lavish them with praise and court their support without the slightest backlash or controversy. Both George Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sent formal greetings to the 2006 gathering of Hagee's group.
By contrast, black Muslim ministers like Farrakhan, or even black Christian ministers like Rev. Jeremiah Wright, are held with deep suspicion, even contempt. McCain is free to hug and praise the Rev. Hagees of the world, but Obama is required to prove over and over and over and over that he does not share the more extreme views of black Ministers.
How come Tim Russert -- in all the times he sits and chats with Lieberman, McCain and various high Bush officials -- never reads all of the inflammatory, disgusting, crazed "Rapture-is-Coming/ All-Jews-will-Burn/ Kill-All-Muslims/ Hurricanes-are-Punishment-against-Gays" pronouncements from John Hagee and James Dobson and Pat Robertson and demand that John McCain and George Bush and Joe Lieberman "denounce" those views and "reject" their support? What's the difference, exactly?
Relatedly, Michael Berube (writing as Mister Answer Man) takes it all one step too far:
Famously tough but fair questioner: Abrenuntiatis farrakhanae? [Do you renounce Farrakhan?]
Liberal black officeseeker: Abrenuntio.
Famously tough but fair questioner: Et omnibus operibus eius? [And all his works?]
Liberal black officeseeker: Abrenuntio.
Famously tough but fair questioner: Et omnibus pompis eius? [And all his pomps?]
Author Mark Svenvold has a long feature piece in the January/February issue of Orion magazine about idealistic people taking to their bicycles and following a seasonal migratory pattern between south Texas and central Mexico:
The real destination, the goal of this enterprise, as the saying goes, was the journey, bicycle migration itself, but in truth, we arrived every day at our goal: a threshold zone of utopian dreamscape, the shiftless world of hobo campsites under bridges, of vanishing into a landscape, a place where labor had become obsolete, of stopping as you please, for any reason—to admire the burnished sunlight while resting in a pair of exploded reclining chairs abandoned in the middle of the Sabinal River valley, or to watch an ostrich-sized emu, some rich Texan’s exotic aviary escapee, step tentatively into the road.
On a bicycle in the Texas Hills, one’s contract with time slowly, marvelously dissolved. You moved under your own power, at your own speed, with your own thoughts. What was it, anyway, that had once seemed so important?