The United States of America touts itself as the land of the free, but more and more, it looks as if America is the home of the jailed. The American justice system is putting American citizens behind bars in record numbers, and those who are locked up are disproportionately black and brown men. An article from the New York Times points out that part of the reason for the high incarceration rate has to do with the number of people who are locked up for minor infractions: Indeed, the United States leads the world in producing prisoners, a reflection of a relatively recent and now entirely distinctive American approach to crime and punishment. Americans are locked up for crimes — from writing bad checks to using drugs — that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations. It is remarkable that regular people in this country are locked up for such minor things, while fraudsters, such as those on Wall Street, aren’t punished at all or are only made to pay a fine for their crimes committed. America has five percent of the world’s population, but a quarter of the world’s criminals, making America the leader in incarceration, with China running a distant second. Here’s how the U.S. ranks against other countries: It [America] has 751 people in prison or jail for every 100,000 in population. (If you count only adults, one in 100 Americans is locked up.) The only other major industrialized nation that even comes close is Russia, with 627 prisoners for every 100,000 people. The others have much lower rates. England’s rate is 151; Germany’s is 88; and Japan’s is 63. Saddest of all is that there are no plans coming out of Washington D.C. to address mass incarceration. The Times article concludes by acknowledging that Western countries are much more punitive than non-English speaking countries. There seems to be something in the culture of Westerners that makes them harsher in their punishments than other cultures.