By Joshua Russell
The United States considers itself to be a leader in many areas. One of the areas that we lead in, however, is a shameful one. The United States incarcerates more people (currently 2.2 million) at a higher rate than any other country in the world.
Misguided policies and laws, including mandatory minimum sentences, are one of the main reasons for this high incarceration rate. The past few decades have seen an unprecedented growth in the prison population in this country, followed by a huge growth in prison construction.
This led to the development of private, for-profit prisons. Private prisons were rare before the harsh sentencing policies of the “war on drugs” that began in the 1980s. As the federal and state governments put more and more people in prison, the costs began to grow as well. Many politicians believed that…