Why a Christian Nation Leads the World in Incarceration

I was . . . in prison, and ye visited me not. Matthew 25:43.

America has long prided itself on being the bastion of democracy and religious freedom.  It has also touted itself as a Christian nation.  The Pledge of Allegiance reads:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,

And to the republic for which it stands,

one nation, under God, indivisible,

with liberty and justice for all.

But there is a sad irony about a purportedly democratic, Christian nation that has a long and unmatched record of taking freedom away from its citizens, especially citizens of color.  The Sentencing Project reports that currently over 2.2 million Americans are incarcerated, making the United States a world leader in that regard.  American citizens, particularly racial minorities, are locked up and institutionalized at a rate that is 6 times the rate of a typical leading developed nation, according to Brookings Institute's The Hamilton Project.

Mass incarceration is the new slavery, the new Jim Crow.  Instead of using its abundant resources to provide real solutions to cyclical poverty and lack of access to a quality education-  the primary factors driving criminal activity - our nation has preferred to spend those resources on criminalizing poverty and offenses that are in fact misdemeanors; it has spent untold billions upon expanding racial profiling and overpolicing of Black/Brown communities; it has spent trillions upon administrating the overburdened justice and penal systems and building new and larger prisons to accommodate the unprecedented increase in its burgeoning prison population.

It is a well-established fact that America operates a huge prison-industrial complex (PIC) whose profits benefit state and local governments and corporate players in the business of moving mostly the poor, immigrants and Black/Brown bodies from freedom into un-freedom.  Good old American  greed is the driving factor behind the PIC.  And good old American racial discrimination provides the raw material - Black and Brown bodies - to keep the industry going and growing more profitable.



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