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:: Sunday, 27 March 2005 ::

US prisons account for 25% of global prison population? Wha'?

I am calling bullshit on that stat, which is swallowed like a half glug of jizz by the SMH's Jackie Chowns, one of a stable of teevee reviewers for that rag, based on nothing more than the screenplay of the HBO show 'Oz'.

'Oz' is all about prison stuff. Natch they'll latch on to any rude stat they can get their hands on - for the show. (Do not get me wrong - I am a big big fan of Levinson from Diner which is a perfect film and Homicide which was perfect except for Yaphet Kotto who just cannot act, and who has a speech impediment to boot. But I got no time for poverblown stuff and this review sums up 'Oz' for me.)

Anyhoo, Googling this has been a most interesting exercise cos there is not a lot out there that is current, that I can find anyways. I found this from the BBC that states baldly that the US prison propulation accounts for 25% of the world's prison population.

But it is from 2000.

And more importantly it is from the BBC.

Like, zif they could write anything accurate.


So keeping on with the looking looking, I found this from some UK Home Office guy writing for the UN from 2003.

And sure nuff, check it out:
Over 9 million people are held in penal institutions throughout the world, mostly as pre-trial detainees (remand prisoners) or having been convicted and sentenced. About half of the these are in the US (2.03m) Russia (0.81m) and China (1.51m plus pre-trial detainees and prisoners in 'adminstrative detention'.

Interesting, eh?

First off, if you read the link you will see Iraq, Afghanistan and, get this, Peoples Republic of North Korea are not included in the 9 million.

Whatdyareckon North Korea might substantially increase the figure, eh?

Ya. Me too.

And notice how the the UN supplies a bunch of the figures.

Well, the UN is rather like the BBC don'tchathink? A big fat bureacracy accountable to no-one but very much on the nose for its inaccuracies of late, at least in the counting department - counting oil-for-food contributions, that is.


The US figure is for prisoners on remand and imprisoned following sentencing.

That Chinese figure is for sentenced folks only.

And it comes from some thingcalled the National Prison Association Annual Conference. Query how accurate it can be. But do not query that if it is inaccurate it is because it is on the low side.

I mean. C'mon.

1.51m in prison in China following sentencing. Ahem, how about that 'administrative detention' for which read 'labour camp' or 'reeducation camp' or whatever? You think in a population of about 1.3 BILLION maybe they might have mere half mill locked up someplace?

Maybe awaiting trial?

And maybe awaiting execution? Amemba China does like the mass executions. Keeps the prison population manageable, presumably.

Whatever the numbers, to baldy remark that the US has a quarter of the world's prison population, without noting that figures are unreliable cos they leave out the world's most notorious incarcerating countries and the habit of the world's most populous nation to detain folks outside of formal sentencing and the are not accurate anyway, is just an exercise in lazy Anti-US presumptions.

I am well aware that Jackie Chown's job is not to educate us about prison populations.

But it would be good if, as a teevee reviewer, she had enough nouse in her head, or her editors had enough nouse if Jackie actually did find out the same stuff I did but her editors spiked it, to question the figures presented to her by a teevee entertainment show.

Lord Jeebus on a Stick. How is it possible for so much bullshit to fly round the globe and always, but always, land on my coffee table at some point during the week.

:: WB 10:55 pm [link+] ::

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