Home > Corruption, Politics, Social Trends, USA > US prison population just got larger … this time it is kids

US prison population just got larger … this time it is kids


Two American judges charged with accepting bribes to convict juveniles for imprisonment at a private sector prison – a disaster waiting to happen.

Put em in ...

Put 'em in ...

In one of the most shocking cases of courtroom graft on record, two Pennsylvania judges have been charged with taking millions of dollars in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers.

Prosecutors say Luzerne County judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan took $2.6 million in payoffs to put juvenile offenders in lockups run by PA Child Care LLC and a sister company, Western PA Child Care LLC. The judges were charged on January 26 and removed from the bench by the Pennsylvania supreme court.

No company officials have been charged, but the investigation is still going on. (via New low: US judges jailed kids for cash-US-World-The Times of India).

Just a short step away …

USA, with a population of 30 crores (300 million), has a criminal population of 70 lakhs (7 million) – behind bars, on probation or on parole. US Government estimates a figure of 20 lakhs (2 million) people serving prison sentences.

And this was something that was waiting to happen. It is no accident.

In contrast …

The current status of Indian criminal system is a study in contrast.

India, with a population of 110 crores (1100 million) has a prison population of 2 lakhs (0.2 million). The Indian National Human Rights Commission gives a figure of 3.5 lakhs as the prison population – including convicts and those who are undergoing trial. The UK Home Office survey of World Prison Population estimates Indian prison population at 2.5 lakhs.

With less than 25 people per 100,000 in prison India has the world’s lowest imprisonment rate. Cynics may snicker at India’s ‘inefficient’ police or the slow court procedures as the cause for this low prison population. That can only mean criminals are at large and India must, therefore have the highest crime rate – which is not true. India has low or average crime rates – based on category.

The root causes of high crime levels …

At different times, high crime levels are blamed on the following five elements. The theory in crime management is control these five and you are in control: -

  1. Police to population ratio (increase police force).
  2. Prison population (put more criminals behind bars)
  3. Capital punishment (kill enough criminals to instil fear)
  4. Poverty (it is povery which the root of all crime)
  5. Gun ownership (more guns means more crime)

The Indian conundrum …

India has the low scores on the first three indices – low number of policemen, low prison population and low capital punishment number – and high on gun ownership and poverty.

Yet the crime rate in India is in the low-to-average range. How come?

Is it difficult to imprison people?

Increased imprisonment of suspected criminals can be easily enabled by lowering burden of proof and creating legislation which will allow for incarceration.

For instance, the various laws under which disproportionately large number of African-Americans were disenfranchised and /or imprisoned in the US. Or the large number of Muslims have been imprisoned in the UK.

And that brings us back to the central question …

How is it that India has the lowest prison population, the lowest police-to-population ratio and an average crime rate?

Behind the paradox is  4000 years in history

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  1. February 21, 2009 at 1:26 am | #1

    Dear Anuraag Sanghi,

    thank you for this: this is an absolute interesting article, giving as well a spotlight to Germany. In Germany it is all about deduction of children from their family due to a local town system which is called Jugendamt (in other countries called youth welfare systeme). The Jugendamt is a local authority with no given functional control structure but a depending lawfull structure.

    It is absolutely easy for the Jugendamt to deduct the cildren into foster families or homes.

  2. February 23, 2009 at 2:06 pm | #2

    Dear Mr.Rohmer – I think this is much like the earlier system of euthanasia, or the Binding-Hoche study (Karl Binding was a lawyer and Alfred Hoche, a doctor).

    Laws which allow the State into the family life itself are a bad idea.

  3. samadhyayi
    April 15, 2011 at 4:56 pm | #3

    compulsory education act in india is also wrong. it forces the child to waste his life in schools. in this age of internet schools are the most inefficient ways of passing knowledge on.

    self motivated study alone is study. a person can read books or contact experts on the subJect for a very efficient session (efficient because the student will ask the right questions as he is prepared because of self motivation). expert directories and knowledge exchanges and study groups where the people involved select who they study with rather than being forced to be in the company of bullies and bad influence friends in school.

    so the law should have been that if a student wanted to learn a particular thing the govt should get all the resources for him according to his necessity. like electronic hand held readers these days are reflected light models. so they are Just like paper dont cause eye strain like computer screens. so if govt gives those things to some children and these children get free limited internet access to sites like archive.org, wikipedia.org, gutenburg.com and other thousands of useful sites. then imagine. and also the govt should provide for transport of students so that they can travel to national monuments and archeological sites and musuems. govt should create more musuems as well. if i had a pass for transport and boarding and lodging i would have travelled to madras musuem from my town in telangana. how wonderful it would be. i would have visisted several archaelogical sites as well. and lots of study places (not mere libraries but huge buildings with serene atmosphere full of trees where books, internet, experts and guidelines are available). education should happen as an answer to a question. but in school the question and answer are both provided by school. and those questions are most certainly either completely useless or something that the student would apply only after20 years time. now how can there be strong desire to learn.

    so on the whole. this compulsory education act is a torture, a inhumane act. the end of hope for humanity . i dont like big govts. i dont like authority that inteferes too much. the teachers want to control everything. even the good teachers are little consolation. they want to take over ur life with useless homework. i recommend reading John HOltZ a homeschooling pioneer in america. i think he hit it right on mark. ofcourse if u are not thinking on individual level but in the mode of thought where u are identifying with the community etc. you wont appreciate such things. some people believe that children are originally by nature rowdies who would do bad things without supervision wihich is nonsense . children’s behaviour of such type is actually the reaction to the control mindedness and hypocrisy and inefficiency and wrongness of adults not because of their inherent fault.
    who is going to appreciate these things. will a day really come when such a law would be made instead of tyrannical insensitive troll laws like compulsory education act which is Just a sure way to make sure all children get brainwashed and live a dead life.

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