The United States has long been known as "The Land of The Free." However, this moniker stands in stark contrast to reality for the 2.3 million people who are currently housed in one of the nation's 109 federal prisons, 1,719 state prisons, 3,163 local jails, 1,772 juvenile detention centers, 80 Indian Country jails, and countless other detention facilities. For these individuals, America is "The Land of The Highest Incarceration Rate on The Planet."
At first glance, it may seem tough to feel sympathy for these detainees. After all, if they didn't commit a crime, they wouldn't be behind bars, right? Unfortunately, it's not quite as simple as that. The statistics indicate that 76% of people held in America's jails have not been convicted of any crimes. Instead, they are largely being detailed as a result of their inability to post bail. In other words, they are being held because they are not wealthy.
On an average day, American jails house more than 600,000 people. Though this figure is undoubtedly shocking, it is far less important than the total number of people who see the inside of a jail cell each year - 10.6 million. Given that the US population sits at around 328 million, this means that about 3.25% of the population is booked into jail each year.
Of the detainees who currently live behind bars, approximately 20% are doing time because of a drug charge. This doesn't mean that they were dealing drugs or were part of a dangerous cartel. In fact, the vast majority of the drug arrests that take place each year are for possession. In 2017, for example, drug sales arrests came in at around 200,000, while drug possession arrests finished the year right around 1.4 million.
Unfortunately, America's policy of mass incarceration shows little signs of slowing down any time soon. As such, if you find yourself in legal jeopardy and would like to avoid spending time in one of our nation's jails or prisons, you will need to employ the services of a skilled defense attorney. When you work with Shapiro Zwanetz & Lake, you can be confident that your lawyer will fight tooth and nail on your behalf. To set up an initial consultation with a member of our team, simply give us a call at (410) 927-5137.