As we celebrate Mother's Day, remember the mother who has a child in prison. Sometimes it is easier to ignore her because it is painful to put ourselves in her shoes. Sometimes it feels right to ignore her because, well, look at how she raised her children!
No mother ever held her newborn and imagined that child in prison and yet too many mothers have children in prison. How many?
More than 6 million Americans are under the heel of the US justice system--in prison, on parole or probation.
The U.S. has 760 prisoners per 100,000 citizens. That’s not just many more than in most other developed countries but seven to 10 times as many. Japan has 63 per 100,000, Germany has 90, France has 96, South Korea has 97, and Britain - with a rate among the highest - has 153....Seven to ten times as many.
This wide gap between the U.S. and the rest of the world is relatively recent. In 1980 the U.S.’s prison population was about 150 per 100,000 adults. It has more than quadrupled since then. So something has happened in the past 30 years to push millions of Americans into prison.
With that many people in prison, you may wonder why our crime rate is so high. Here's the puzzler: the crime rate in the United States is falling.
You might think putting so many bad people in prison could explain the falling crime rate and yet The Wall Street Journal article says,
...prison can't be the sole reason for the recent crime drop in this country: Canada has seen roughly the same decline in crime, but its imprisonment rate has been relatively flat for at least two decades.Even after putting millions of people in prison for drug crimes during the War on Drugs, the rate of illegal drug usage has not decreased much, if at all. We saw the same thing happen during Prohibition: alcoholic beverages were still widely available. We haven't learned much since then.