The Rise of the US Prison Population WB: @MatthewOldridge #mtbos #onted

A lot of social justice math comes from noticing things are out of proportion, or in common language, “out of whack”. Are Americans worse people now than in 1980? I doubt it.

Is the rate of incarceration in keeping with with the crime rate? Many think not.

Try this fact with kids: the US, with around 4% of the world’s population, has about 22% of the world’s prisoners. Again, are Americans worse people than everyone else around the world?

Why does 96% of the population have only 78% of the world’s prisoners?

There is a lot to explore here.

You can start with just the graph itself. What do you notice? Wonder?

Has the US prison population peaked? (Looks like it). How is “prison” different than “jail”.

You can call this the “incarceration inquiry”. I would want to know how Canada compares. Not just raw numbers, but proportionally, how we measure up to the US. Again, why are proportionally less Canadians jailed? Is it because we are better people? I think not.

Critical thinking is, in my definition, “making sound judgement with all available evidence.” This is one case where students can bring their critical senses to bear on interesting data.