165143 United States: The Nation That Loves Prisons

Tuesday, November 6, 2007: 3:10 PM

Corey Weinstein, MD, CCHP , Correctional Medical Consultant, San Francisco, CA
In the past 35 years the incarceration rate in the US has skyrocketed to become the highest in the world. With 4% of the world's population the US holds 25% of the world's prisoners in its jails and prisons. Most of the prisoners are people of color from poor communities. African Americans at 12% of the US population make up 45% of the prison population, and are incarcerated at 7 times the rate of Whites. This era of mass racialized incarceration has not decreased crime rates, violence or drug use in our communities, and should not be expected to, as only 2% or crimes result in a prison sentence. It is political and social forces that have turned the US into a nation that loves prisons. Prisons have become society's solution for public health problems like serious mental illness and illicit drug use, and for political problems like structural unemployment and radical organizing in poor communities. Mass incarceration adds more danger to society than it provides a safeguard.

Learning Objectives:
1. Compare US incarceration rates to other nations. 2. What is the function of prisons in the US and how does it impact public health.

Keywords: Human Rights, Prison

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.