From the International Herald Tribune is an article expressing shock at the American prisoner making machine…
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 â€” from writing bad checks to using drugs â€” that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations.
Criminologists and legal scholars in other industrialized nations say they are mystified and appalled by the number and length of American prison sentences.
The article goes on to speculate that America’s lax gun laws contribute to the high violent crime rate and subsequently add to the exorbitantly high prison population. For more on American corrections read here