The United States has a higher number of incarcerated people than any country in the world. As of June of last year, there were over 2 million incarcerated people in the U.S., with 698 prisoners for every 100 thousand Americans as of 2016.
With less than five percent of the world's population, the United States accounts for 25 percent of global prisoners. The American reliance on incarceration most searingly affects Black Americans, who are routinely given harsher sentences.
Nearly 10 percent of incarcerated people in the United States are housed in private prisons, or prisons run by third-party organizations, incentivize a higher number of prisoners, who are then used for labor to bring in profits for these organizations.
But Republican Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) doesn't think the U.S. is incarcerating enough people.
On Tuesday, the Senator tweeted that the United States has a "major under-incarceration" problem.
We have a major under-incarceration problem in America. And it's only getting worse. https://t.co/guYdE7aHdb— Tom Cotton (@Tom Cotton)1617718671.0
Cotton linked to a CNN article by Emma Tucker and Peter Nickeas that noted a rise in homicides across major American cities in 2020, the year that saw the outbreak of a pandemic that's killed over 500 thousand Americans and left millions suddenly unemployed.
The article reads, in part:
"It's nearly impossible to attribute any year-to-year change in violent crime statistics to any single factor, and homicides and shootings are an intensely local phenomenon that can spike for dozens of reasons. But the increase in homicide rates across the country is both historic and far-reaching, as were the pandemic and social movements that touched every part of society last year."
While the piece points to a "perfect storm" of factors contributing to the rise in crime, Cotton seems to think the problem is that the United States is not imprisoning enough Americans.
He was quickly corrected.
White supremacy is when America has 5% of the world's population but 25% of the world's prison population (and who… https://t.co/dwmp4feyVV— Qasim Rashid, Esq. قاسم رشید (@Qasim Rashid, Esq. قاسم رشید)1617733829.0
How about fixing the mass incarceration issue and you can start by equal education. Poor children deserve the same… https://t.co/yExq23caGX— Supercalifragilisticexpialidopeness (@Supercalifragilisticexpialidopeness)1617741361.0
Arkansas's incarceration rate, for context, is 8 times that of Canada, 12 times that of Germany, & 20 times that of… https://t.co/zoL9432Ggn— Taniel (@Taniel)1617726686.0
I mean, we all know that Tom Cotton is a blood-thirsty fascist. But to say that we have an "under-incarceration pr… https://t.co/bbbviwTBxT— Erick Fernandez (@Erick Fernandez)1617732284.0
No. We have a major overcriminalization problem in America. Stop criminalizing everything. https://t.co/dGKoX7kbyo— Justin Amash (@Justin Amash)1617738853.0
Under. Incarceration? US jails on a scale never seen b4 in human history & still it’s not enough? If the 6M trap… https://t.co/lLDcmp7mdO— Goddess of Gumbo (@Goddess of Gumbo)1617740424.0
Some said that if Cotton wanted to fix the so-called problem, he should go to prison himself—along with the other Republican lawmakers who amplified the lies that prompted a mob of pro-Trump extremists to incite a failed insurrection.
Tom Cotton calls for Matt Gaetz and the January 6 attackers to do hard time! https://t.co/aGvUIOdQZB— emptywheel (@emptywheel)1617735531.0
If you like Jail so much. Go. https://t.co/ZqlJKqGTM4— Kimberly Drew (@Kimberly Drew)1617740308.0
Tom Cotton is correct. There are a whole lot of Republican politicians who aren’t in prison but need to be. https://t.co/Dt7a7m38d6— Palmer Report (@Palmer Report)1617735395.0
It's doubtful that's a proposition he'll accept.