When I was at Corinna and Riley’s radio show last night, Corinna mentioned that Democracy Now! had reported that recent statistics state that, in the US, 1 in 136 residents are in prison.Â This is crazy and more than any statistic I’ve heard about prisons, drives home the enormity of the prison system in the US.
This past weekend on This American Life, they played some audio from a film called Troop 1500, about a Girl Scout troop whose members are all the daughters of women in prison. Â The last two weeks or so, TAL has had stories relating to the lives of people in prison.Â I was happy that prison issues were getting so much coverage, but I really wondered about the sudden concentration of stories about prison, on the radio show, and in other media.Â I guess its really the case that imprisonment and its effects on families and communities is really a huge part of the reality of American life.Â 1 in 136 is such a tangible, familiar fraction and it just makes me think that if this is the case, that 1 in such a small number of people is deemed to be unfit to participate in the rest of society, that this says that something is horribly wrong with our society.
I’m pretty exhausted right now, and I wish I could articulate this better, but the statistic and the realization that even the cultural media is reflecting this statistic, makes me feel pretty sad.