Sadly, we’re not in any threat of losing our dominance in incarceration any time soon, at least in terms of the raw number of prisoners we hold. Some 2.2 million Americans are locked up at any given time—compared to a mere 676,000 in Russia and 385,000 in India.
17% of state prisoners and half of all federal prisoners are incarcerated for drug crimes—and this doesn’t count the percentage who committed other crimes linked to addiction problems, which is far higher….
Per capita, the tiny island nation of the Seychelles has matched our rate of 707 prisoners per 100,000 members of the population—but we are still far ahead of slackers like the UK, at 149, and the Netherlands, at 75….
Compare that to the US, which has only 5% of the world’s population but consumes 80% of its opioids. We surely overprescribe in some cases—but everyone else’s cruel under-prescribing needs to be taken into account, too…