Giving criminals a second chance

Take a look at a graph created by Dara Lind using official prison statistics about the number of prisoners in the US per 100,000 adult US residents. The rates now are nearly seven times what they were for nearly an entire century, from 1880 to 1970, when it suddenly shot up when ‘law and order’ and ‘get tough on crime’ became the way to win votes.

America now has a quarter of the world’s prison population while having just 5% of the population. This is crazy. The Daily Show looks at some programs that seek to address this problem.

(These clips aired on October 8, 2015. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Nightly Show outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)


  1. says

    Good to see you back.

    There is a greater problem with the US prison industry than politicians scoring points by being “tough on crime” or for-profit criminal corporations running prisons and engaging in corporate welfare. Mass incarcertation, both short term and long term, is done for political reasons.

    In many parts of the US, people who have been convicted of felonies (and some other crimes) lose their right to vote for a period of time or even permanently. And who in the US are the most likely to be convicted of crimes, to be forced into false confessions or plea bargains? The poor and non-whites, of course.

    The far right in the US has sought to disenfranche people of their right to vote (e.g. wiping thousands of people from voting lists) as both a racist, classist and anti-democratic tactic. Mass imprisonment -- sometimes on false or exaggerated charges -- is another form of this. The goal is to remove voters from the voting pool who might vote for democrats.

  2. says

    Prison has become the new jim crow, and a profit center besides. It’s a simple way to disempower based on social class, and get free labor, while squeezing the taxpayers and funding a useless “war on drugs” It won’t get better until we address the root cause: the social value of imprisoning people for the power elite.

  3. says

    Follow up on my comment:

    Leaked documents show that Alabama cops have been targeting innocent black men with planted evidence and manufactured false convictions for nearly 20 years. Some of those men still languish in prison. The local district attorney and others were participating in a criminal conspiracy, to which that district attorney’s response has been, “So what?”.

    There is no purpose in abusing their positions in this way other than to intentionally ruin black people’s lives. Their names are tainted and ruined by false criminal victions, they waste years of their lives in the unproductive limbo of prison (not to mention the inherent danger of being a non-violent person in a violent prison). In Alabama, ex-convicts with felony convictions lose their right to vote and must appeal to get it back (which of course, cost money that they don’t have since they weren’t working for 5-10 years).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *