More Homicides = More Incarcerations

From a discussion on hackernews, someone writes:

This bug almost looks like a feature to me. The actual bug is the criminal justice politics that has resulted in an incarceration rate of 256 in such a wealthy and homogeneous society as Washington state.

The incarceration rate in Washington state, while actually being the tenth lowest in the US, is 2-4 times higher than that of European states of comparable size, wealth and diversity, such as Sweden, Belgium or Austria.

There is perhaps a misconception that America is arbitrarily locking up people.

America does indeed have a much higher incarceration rate than UK, with a rate of 700 per 100,000 vs. 150 in England.

Of these, 50% are for violent offenders:

In debating incarceration, the left constantly raises the issue of ‘non-violent’ offenders, glancing over the fact that a substantial number of prisoners are violent, even for the non-violent categories. Property and drug crimes, while not classified as ‘violent’, have the potential to escalate into violence, and represent a threat to social order. The broken window theory posits that small crimes are a ‘stepping stone’ to larger ones.

America has a substantially higher homicide rate than many developed countries:

The homicide rate for Washington state is 2-3 per 100,000, while Sweden is just .70, Belgum 1.65, and .90 for Austria.

It’s not surprising countries with high homicide rates also have higher incarceration rates than countries with fewer homicides.