This Is What Happens When We're "Tough on Crime"

December 21st 2014
  • America is a nation with roughly 5 percent of the world's population yet 25 percent of its prisoners. 
  • During the last 30 years, this number has skyrocketed, increasing over 400 percent.

In this illuminating video, YouTube personality Hank Green explains why. 

One of the saddest parts of our criminal justice system is that while it touts corrections and rehabilitation, ex-convicts emerge with a lack of skills and a difficulty finding jobs. Employers frequently pass over potential employees with criminal records. A survey by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) found that only 40% of employers would "definitely" or "probably" hire applicants with criminal records. As Hank Green notes, "Somewhere along the way we started to think being tough on crime meant being tough on criminals, but that's not the same thing! Punishment is only one piece of a much larger crime reduction pie."

Considering that it costs the U.S. government on average $31,286 (the highest being $60,000 in New York) per inmate annually, it is about time that we evaluate our prison reform options and prioritize corrections and rehabilitation over punishment. 

ATTN: also recently released released a video about the rise of private, for-profit prisons:


Private prison companies claim they can house, feed, and monitor inmates more cost effectively than state governments and so there you have it-- they win big contracts.

But there's a catch.

Most private prison contractors have occupancy guarantees that mandate their prisons remain between 80 and 90 percent full. In other words, the more prisoners they house, the more money they make. And the more prisons that are built, the more contracts they win. The business model of private prisons is to maximize the amount of people in America who are locked up-- not to rehabilitate or ultimately lower incarceration rates.

So what can we do?

For starters, do not invest in or buy shares of publicly traded private prison corporations. Second, vote for politicians who want to reduce the incarceration rate and end the War on Drugs. If you are not registered to vote, you can do so here. To learn where the likely 2016 presidential candidates stand on private prisons, click here.

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