There are 2.2 million people in our country’s nations and jails – a 500 percent increase over the past 40 years. We incarcerate a greater proportion of our own citizens than any other nation in the world. Just behind us are El Salvador, Rwanda and Russia. The amount of people incarcerated in Michigan alone is about the same as the entire prison population in Canada.
The reasons behind the increase in mass incarceration in our country have been well documented. The “War on Drugs” of the 1980s turned substance abuse problems into a criminal issue – meaning we went from a little less than 41,000 people in prison for drug-related offenses in 1980 to nearly 453,000 in 2017. The National Resource Council has also reported that nearly half of the growth in state prison populations was due to an increase in time served for offensives, the results of harsher mandatory sentencing laws and the reduction of releasing people on parole.