5% population, 25% prison population: U.S.

Senator Jim Webb of Virginia met with people who work in prisons:
But once we were inside the presentation room, where about a dozen people who work in corrections and social services had assembled to talk about the criminal justice system, Webb’s evident passion and fluency with the issues created a palpable bond with the attendees. “We have 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the people in prison,” he said. “Either we’re the most evil people on earth, or we’re doing something wrong.” As for the imprisonment of nonviolent drug offenders: “I saw more drug use at Georgetown University Law Center when I was a student there than I’ve seen anywhere else in my life,” he said, to knowing laughs. “And some of those people are judges.”

Webb then listened as attendees enumerated the various dysfunctions, injustices and perverse incentives created by the metastasizing prison-industrial complex: “I can get $600,000 from the state for a new jail,” said Fredericksburg Mayor Tom Tomzak, “but I can’t get $40 for Healthy Families.”

We need to change that.