Afghanistan Gets Prison Reform Before We Do

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Some rich irony here, especially for Nashville, home of Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's largest for-profit jailer: Afghanistan is getting prison reform before we do. It seems that locking people up and manhandling them for petty offenses is actually helping Taliban recruitment efforts. So we're now going to build more facilities and try to change Afghani incarceration policies. Stephen Walt at Foreign Policy hits the nail on the head:
Given that we are trying to defeat an insurgency, I don't have a big problem with any initiative that might weaken Taliban recruitment. But am I the only one who sees the irony in this situation? Prison reform is badly needed back here in the United States -- where the incarceration rate is the highest in the world (Russia and Belarus -- well-known bastions of freedom -- are #2 and #3). In fact, the incarceration rate in the United States is nearly four times the world average, and nearly seven times higher than in the EU. Recidivism rates in the United States are also high (about 60 percent), which suggests that prison life isn't doing a very good job of rehabilitating convicts. As sociologist Bruce Western has shown, this situation has far-reaching negative consequences. Although Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) has been trying to spearhead a reform effort, this hasn't generated a lot of momentum so far. So the Afghans may get significant prison reform before Americans do.
(H/T: Andrew Sullivan)

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