This chapter focuses on New York Times reporter Adam Liptak, who wrote that 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.” More than two million people live behind bars in America. As a columnist in the Guardian has put it, the United States now has more prisoners than Lutherans, more inmates than farmers. Liptak's article focused on the recent turn toward longer prison sentences to account for the soaring statistics. Compared to their counterparts in other developed countries, American judges and juries dole out long terms. Criminologists point to this development, along with the nation's drug war, racial legacy, and absence of a strong social welfare system to account for the statistics, including their impact on racial minorities.
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