April V. Taylor
The 2010 United States Census puts the country’s prison population at 2.3 million, making the proportion of the United States population behind bars the highest of any country in the world. When data and statistics look at populations in state and federal prisons, they leave out the hundreds of thousands of people who are locked up in the thousands of local and county jails. When all jails and prisons are taken into account, there are actually more places Americans are incarcerated than degree-granting colleges and universities in the United States. In some places in America, especially in the South, there are actually more citizens locked up and living behind bars than those living on college campuses, with more than 80 percent of all counties in the United States having a jail and/or prison.
The fact that most Americans do not have to look far to find a prison or jail is just one of the many reasons many people are taking a closer look at what needs to be done to reduce the American prison population. One of the biggest contributors to the high number of Americans behind bars is the War on Drugs, which President Obama declared “an utter failure” in 2004.