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Ed Shaw Law No Nonsense Legal Advice

Local Solutions For Local Problems

Lock ‘em up and throw away the key!

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2022 | Criminal Law |

Always a tempting slogan when one is frustrated with crime. Does it actually work? Does locking up a lot of people make people feel safer, more secure? If it did, countries that lock up a lot of people would have low crime rates and people living there would feel secure, not threatened by crime.

Let us look at the country that leads the world in incarceration; keeping people locked up, both per capita and in total numbers. What country is that you may ask, is China, with a population of over 1.4 billion, and as a police state with little regard for civil liberties or individual rights.

Russia, a corrupt dictatorship, locks people up for truthfully saying the country is at war in Ukraine. In Russia, expressing any type of opposition to the government there can land you in lockup in a flash.

No, it is not either of those places, it is the good old USA. We not only lock up the highest percent of our population, but we also have the largest total locked up population, greater than China and India, two countries with more than four times our population. Who is in our jails and prisons? Some rough customers no doubt, but also many non-violent drug and property offenders, along with many senior citizens who may have been rough in their youth, but, in their 60s and 70s are often not in a position to do much harm to anyone.

Does all of this locking up make us safer? does not seem to as we have a higher crime rate than most other developed countries. Virtually every country in Europe has a far smaller percent of their population locked up, has much less crime, and that has been the case for decades. While some individuals certainly need to be locked up, it is time to look at the billions that we spend every year keeping so many people locked up; there are much cheaper ways to deal with crime, it is past time to retire ‘lock ‘em up and throw away the key’.



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