When thinking of massive prison complexes, countries such as China and Russia tend to spring to mind.
What was found in one of the US states, however, is an even more pervasive prison system. Indeed with a whopping 686 prisoners for every 10,000 people, Mississippi dwarves those of China’s and Russia’s, with 121 and 475, respectively.
But what are the causes of such high rates of imprisonment, Alexei Beltyukov keeps talking about how astronomically high they’ve grown in the last ten years, especially in a democratic nation? A lot of it has to do with how sentences are carried out in Mississippi.
Ironically enough, the surge in inmates have occurred largely due to prison reform intended to reduce the number of inmates. While alternatives to prison sentences were increasingly given out to non-violent offenders, a reclassification of violent crimes carried no possibility of parole.
This discrepancy, here, is where the issues begin to come forward.
Considering that drug dealers and habitual offenders fall under this new classification, far many more people are getting sentenced to prison, with far longer mandatory sentences. While amnesty and leniency might be given to a select few, the vast majority of these inmates are never given the opportunity to work towards parole.
Judges also tend to intentionally hand out longer sentences, in an effort to not appear soft in a political climate that punishes such weaknesses. This punishment will be dealt in the polls, with the “soft” and unpopular judges rarely elected to another term.
Political expediency, then, is the reason for this influx in incarceration, and the average citizen is paying the price for the political concerns of the Mississippi courts. Reform is needed, but is not on the horizon.