The United States is a Police State, or The Penal State in an Age of Crisis
The United States accounts for 5 percent of the world's population, and almost a quarter of the world's prisoners. It is number one with the proverbial bullet when it comes to locking up its own people. No thug dictator, no psychopathic madman, anywhere in the world can touch the United States in this department.
Mostly victims of the so-called "War on Drugs", with over 50% of those imprisoned for drug possession, this police state specializes in imprisoning poor and working class people.
The writers over at Monthly Review have done an absolutely brilliant job here, and previously, in uncovering the ceiling of civilian spending that exists in the USA, much lower than for many other countries, and the huge bias towards militarized and "public safety" (i.e., police, prisons and tazers, etc.) spending of late. As they point out:
Studies show that those nations with the highest rates of inequality also tend to have higher rates of incarceration, with the United States representing an extreme on both counts.
Overall, this is a good expose of neoliberal atrocities in the USA. Juveniles and immigrants, being the weakest constituencies, were the first to feel the horrors of completely privatized prisons, the thin end of the wedge for the future.
Testing privatization on the most vulnerable and politically disenfranchised groups gave private companies the foothold necessary to become part of the conversation about what to do with the rising costs of imprisonment. The increasing costs, of course, were themselves predicated upon skyrocketing incarceration rates, translating into booming demand for the prison services industry.
Date on the "racial" breakdown of the prison population of the USA are astonishing and ugly. Capitalism is, indeed, a boot in the face of humanity forever. What is the remedy?
As the Editors put it, "We need our own Bastille Day." Absolutely.