It’s (Might Be) True. They All Are In Jail.

Librado Romero/The New York Times

Americans love jail. Aside from the many movies and documentaries about prison, we’ve been known to wax poetic about it’s many “movements” and elaborate escapes and success stories. These days, celebs even go to prison to revive their careers. (Now Wesley Snipes…-Steely D) In the hip-hop world, artists have started inmate chic record labels and clothing lines like Akon’s Konvict and Beanie Sigel’s State Property. But the bottom line is, America locks up more people that any other country in the world and 1 in every 100 adult Americans are in jail. According to a recent article published by the New York Times:

The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.

Indeed, the United States leads the world in producing prisoners, a reflection of a relatively recent and now entirely distinctive American approach to crime and punishment. Americans are locked up for crimes — from writing bad checks to using drugs — that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations.

In college I used to roll my eyes at my stoop-sitting, cigarette-smoking aunties who would stay up until the wee hours of the morning swapping stories of block gossip and bad-ass kids. Eventually the conversation would turn to men, and the lack thereof. With a smirk, they would turn to me and my cousins to say, “Sorry ninas, all of the good men are gay, in jail or have fucked your friends!” I didn’t believe them, I admit. I was an eternal optimist at one point. But now, through my own personal history and after every really bad dating experience, I can hear their voices in my head. Needless to say, this article is starting to serve as a confirmation. So my option is either stay in the US or move overseas:

The only other major industrialized nation that even comes close is Russia, with 627 prisoners for every 100,000 people. The others have much lower rates. England’s rate is 151; Germany’s is 88; and Japan’s is 63.

The median among all nations is about 125, roughly a sixth of the American rate.

For us single ladies, the fact is, it is very possible that the person that you choose to spend your life with will have had a brush with the law or may have taken a “vacation” at one time or another. Prison is big business and a free/cheap labor resource for the country, so naturally–America makes it their business to lock people up. If this is a deal-breaker you just may be out of luck, or maybe you accept it and get your Saturday visiting hustle straight. I say we all just make a mass exodus to Europe. I’m stopping in Rotterdam first, but not before I buy my aunties a stoop cocktail. By the way, check out this prison – I might actually break the law to get in!

See you in first class!



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