Though the United States may be behind other developed countries when it comes to some issues, such as income inequality, we continue to lead the rest of the globe in another category: incarceration rate.
The United States has led the world in incarceration rates for over thirty years, and our current prison population, approximately 2.3 million, is far and away the largest of any developed nation, including Russia and China.
Our criminal justice system, at both local and federal levels, is in desperate need of reform. The growing prison population will continue to drain from public resources unless something is done to combat the glaring issue. The lack of media coverage makes me wonder if most Americans are even aware of this issue. A recent local news story has exhibited some of these problems on a much smaller scale.
The City of Atlanta has faced several lawsuits over illegal strip-searching in the past few months and has spent over $2.5 million of taxpayer money to defend and litigate these cases. However, recent reports from former high-ranking officers in the City of Atlanta Police Department indicate that these searches were condoned and sometimes encouraged by APD leaders in order to meet arrest quotas.
Wait, what? The city used public funds in order to make sure arrest quotas were met—even if it meant breaking the law in the process—and continues to spend taxpayer money to defend itself from similar charges, while new charges continue to be made. I have a feeling that somewhere in this process, taxpayer money is being wasted.
The problems within our criminal justice system have continued to grow over the last few years. It is time to face this problem before it turns into an unmanageable crisis—if it isn’t already at that point.
Until then, we will continue to pay for it.