The report, published by the Pew Centre using data partly supplied by the US Justice Department and Bureau of Prisons, acknowledges that the increase in the incarceration rate coincides with steep declines in violent crime, but questions whether the correlation between the two phenomena is direct.
It says that nationwide there are now 1.6 million people in prisons, translating into one in every 99.1 adults. It has never been so high and can be traced back to a surge of prison sentences handed down through the 1990s, although the rate has continued to trend upward since 2000.
The findings also underline America’s position as the most prison-heavy country in the world, far outstripping China, which has the second highest rate of imprisonment as well as Russia, ranked third.
For minority groups the picture is especially bleak. One in every 36 Hispanic adults is currently behind bars, while the number for African American men is one in 15. More stunning is the rate of imprisonment for black men aged 20 to 34, where one out of every nine is now serving time.
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The US troops in Iraq have shot dead a civilian who approached their patrol near the town of Miqdadiya, north of Baghdad, the military said.
One report quoting the military said it the man had a cast on his broken arm under his jacket, which troops had mistaken for an explosives vest.
He had ignored instructions to stop and a warning shot, the military said.
There have been a series of bomb attacks in the Muqdadiyah area, which the US has blamed on al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Iraqi police said the man was elderly, hard of hearing and suffering from mental disabilities, although the US military could not confirm this.
“There was nothing suspicious found on him but the incident is under investigation,” said military spokesman Maj Brad Leighton.
“It was a mistake… an unfortunate incident,” he added.
An American soldier makes a mistake and an innocent civilian dies. That’s a high price to pay for incompetence.
This is not, then, pure neocon ideology at work, says Stiglitz: “Ideology of convenience is a better description.” It is an ideology illustrated even more clearly in another fact that Stiglitz can’t believe – that Bush put through tax cuts while going to war. In Stiglitz and Bilmes’s reading, this was downright underhand. Raising taxes, and resorting to the rhetoric of shared sacrifice used in the world wars, for example, would have made Americans more aware of exactly what the war was costing them, and would have provoked opposition sooner. The solution was to borrow the money, at interest of couple of hundred billion dollars a year, which, by 2017, will add up to another trillion dollars or so. This government will be gone in nine months; subsequent administrations, and generations, will have to pay it off.
At the same time, Stiglitz and Bilmes argue, the Federal Reserve colluded in this obfuscation, because it “kept interest rates lower than they otherwise might have been, and looked the other way as lending standards were lowered, thereby encouraging households to borrow more – and spend more.” Alan Greenspan, by this account, encouraged people to take on variable-rate mortgages, even as household savings rates went negative for the first time since the Depression. Individuals were taking on unprecedented debt at the same time as a long housing bubble made them feel wealthy (and less concerned with derring-do abroad) – a scenario echoed on this side of the Atlantic.
On one occasion, a house east of the Jabaliya refugee camp was struck – two children, a brother and sister, were killed.
Later, a 15-year-old girl and her 16-year-old sister were also killed.
In another attack, a mother was killed as she was preparing breakfast for her children, medical workers said.
“We are in the middle of a total war. We hear the rockets and the explosions everywhere… we cannot leave our homes,” a Jabaliya resident, Abu Alaa, told the AFP news agency.
“They’re shooting at everything that moves.”
Mother making breakfast for children; militant. Sisters (15 and 16 years old); militants. Children (brother and sister); militants.
An Israeli government minister warned yesterday that increasing rocket fire from Gaza would bring Palestinians a Shoah – the Hebrew word normally used to denote the Nazi Holocaust inflicted on Jews during the Second World War.
Mr Vilnai declared: “As the rocket fire grows, and the range increases – and they haven’t yet said the last word on this – they are bringing upon themselves a greater Shoah because we will use all our strength in every way we deem appropriate, whether in air strikes or on the ground.”
Israel’s project nears it’s final phase; the final solution of the Palestinian problem. And the rest of the world watches.