The United States jails more prisoners than any nation on earth — about 2.3 million, or more than 1 percent of all American adults. Our gigantic penal system is regularly characterized as a national disgrace. I’ve applied the label myself.
Plainly there is something deeply disquieting about a democratic superpower locking up so many people that 25 percent of the world’s reported prisoners are housed in US cells. How can a country with an incarceration rate of 716 inmates per 100,000 residents, roughly five times the global average, think of itself as “The Land of the Free?”