Despite only having about 5% of the world’s population, the United States is home to almost 25% of all prisoners in the world. Countries like China and India with much higher populations have both a lower incarceration rate and total prison population than the United States.
If we imagine every state as an independent nation, as the graph in this link illustrates, 23 states would have the highest incarceration rate in the world. Massachusetts, the state with the lowest incarceration rate in the nation, would rank 9th in the world, just below Brazil and followed closely by the countries of Belarus, Turkey, Iran, and South Africa. Other states, including Tennessee, with incarceration rates even higher than the U.S. average, compare even worse.
The current prison system is one of the worst offenders of systemic racism. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), in 2018 Black males accounted for 34% of the total male prison population, white males 29%, and Hispanic males 24%. WIKI
Viable alternatives to the over-imprisonment of American Citizens are desperately needed, such as Restorative Justice Programs. One such program, located in Nashville, TN, is called the Raphah Institute.
Restorative Justice Diversion Program (RJDP)
We facilitate a restorative justice process for youth who have caused felony harm and the people they have harmed. In this process, we do 3 things:
- Support the person harmed in identifying the impact of the harm and what they need for repair.
- Support youth in taking accountability for the harm and responsibility for repairing it.
- Support youth in identifying the root causes of their choices and give them tools to transform.
The result is a sense of justice for the person who has been harmed and transformation for the youth who has caused the harm. Together, this makes for a safer and more just community.