Wednesday, May 27, 2009

If only the US had this problem.

Apparently, the Netherlands are importing criminals from Belgium because there aren't enough in the Netherlands. (and Belgium is paying them a cool 30 million euros to do so.)

Hmmm, let's see, the Netherlands have 16 million people (according to Wikipedia) and 12,000 criminals in prison. That equates to about 75 detainees per 100,000 in the population.

By comparison, it is 751/100,000 in the US, or about 1% of all adults. Is crime rate actually 10 times higher in the US, or are we 10 times more likely to put people in jail for the crimes they commit (compared to the Netherlands)? My guess is that it is more of the latter than the former, given that the Netherlands has much laxer laws on drugs, which is one of the main causes for the high prison population in the US.

Unfortunately, I'm not convinced that the US will ever change on this, because there's very much a self-righteous view on punishing people for their crimes (rather than rehabilitating them to be useful to society). That, plus the prison union is pretty sizable and has an obvious interest in keeping themselves employed by supporting laws that put more people behind bars for longer.

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