An extremely problematic phenomenon in America today is the ever growing industry of privatized prisons across America, generally referred to as the Prison Industrial Complex, as well as skyrocketing rates of incarceration that leave the rest of the nations of the world trailing behind.
The issue ties together many social aspects such as the connection between the massive rate of imprisonment for non-violent drug use and rampant poverty, as well as the growing political influence of private prison industries and companies that thrive on inmate populations as cheap and economic forms of labor.
As this problem grows larger and larger, the prisons in the United States fill up continuously, based very much on a mentality that years of incarceration can fix pretty much any problem. The United States has, by far and away, the highest rate of incarceration of any nation in the world, as it imprisons approximately 743 people per 100,000 across the country. Today US prisons are filled to the breaking point with 2.3 million people, far more per capita than any country in the world; 1.6 times as many as it's closest competitor, Russia, and 6 times as many as in China.
From 20 years ago, the US' prison population quadrupled in size to 2.3 million, making building prisons the fastest growing industry in the United States. Seventy Five percent of Americans in prison are there because of non-violent crimes, particularly in light of the "three strikes and you're out" laws that serve out millions of 25 years to life sentences every year to those that have committed three non-violent crimes like possession of illegal drugs. Because criminals locked up in prisons lose most of their rights in many states across America, the Prison Industrial Complex creates a population of people who cannot vote, cannot contest their working environments, and can work well below the limits of minimum wage, thus creating a very lucrative field that has become the staple of the economic structure for entire communities, particularly in the Midwest.
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