According to a recent report released by the Justice Department, the number of incarcerated Americans reached an all-time record last year. Local, state and federal officials jailed an additional 62,000 people as of June 2006 sending the prison population to 2.24 million people.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) annual report says the 2.8 percent increase in incarcerations was the largest increase in six years. Black men continue to be imprisoned at record pace. Blacks and Hispanics are the primary people being jailed. Currently, Black men, who are roughly 6 and a-half percent of the nation’s total population, represented 37 percent of those behind bars. African American males have an incarceration rate of 4.8 percent compared to 1.9 percent for Hispanics and 0.7 percent for whites. Amazingly, 11 percent of all Black males between 25 and 34 are in prison.

The primary culprits are the so-called war on drugs and tougher (some critics argue extreme) sentencing laws. The U.S. has more of its citizens in prison than any other nation in the world. Communist-led China, for example, has a population nearly four times larger than that of the U.S. but has fewer people in prison. Some critics, such as the Drug War Chronicle – from Drug War Chronicle, Issue #492, 6/29/07 – are now blaming a “prison-industrial complex” which benefits and profits from the growing incarcerations.

source: Taylor Media Services

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