The U.S. has the highest prison population per capita than any country in the world. Most of the prison population is from the least fortunate classes in our society. Below is some staggering information from a study conducted by The Pew Charitable Trusts about our prison system found at http://www.pewpublicsafety.org/research.aspx. You can come to your own conclusions about our criminal justice system and how it feeds a cottage industry to our detriment.
"After a 700-percent increase in the U.S. prison population between 1970 and 2005, you'd think the nation would finally have run out of lawbreakers to put behind bars. But according to Public Safety, Public Spending: Forecasting America's Prison Population 2007- 2011, a first-of-its-kind projection, state and federal prisons will swell by more than 192,000 inmates over the next five years. This 13-percent jump triples the projected growth of the general U.S. population, and will raise the prison census to a total of more than 1.7 million people. Imprisonment levels are expected to keep rising in all but four states, reaching a national rate of 550 per 100,000, or one of every 182 Americans. If you put them all together in one place, the incarcerated population in just five years will outnumber the residents of Atlanta, Baltimore and Denver combined. The national price tag is staggering. The projected 192,023 new prisoners--leave aside the current population of more than 1.5 million inmates--could cost as much as $27.5 billion: potentially a cumulative $15 billion in new operating costs and $12.5 billion in new construction costs by 2011. Every additional dollar spent on prisons, of course, is one dollar less that can go to preparing for the next Hurricane Katrina, educating young people, providing health care to the elderly, or repairing roads and bridges. Don't picture this parade of prisoners as an exclusively male group. Nationwide, men outnumber women behind bars, but women are playing a dubious kind of catch-up here. The number of women prisoners is projected to grow by 16 percent by 2011, while the male population will increase 12 percent. In some states this disparity is particularly striking. Nevada, for example, is projecting a 36-percent increase in female prisoners over the next half-decade. Gender differences aren't the only area in which trends vary widely among states and regions. Although national prison populations aren't currently growing at the same furious pace as they were a few years back, in some states and regions growth rates remain in crisis mode."