Fact check: Sanders' claims about number of prisoners in the US


In a tweet, Bernie Sanders, senator for Vermont and former presidential candidate,  wrote that the U.S. has the highest number of prisoners in the world.

Bernie Sanders on Twitter

While we have more people in jail than any country, we are beginning to make progress on criminal justice reform. There is still a long way to go in creating a justice system that works for all, but we should celebrate the steps we are taking. https://t.co/O9y32EdvWk

Claim: 

“While we have more people in jail than any country, we are beginning to make progress on criminal justice reform”

Fact Check: 

(Note: We will only check the claim that the U.S. has more people in jail than any other country. The claim that we are “making progress” is too ambiguous and can mean any of a number of contentious things)

True. According to prisonstudies.org, the U.S. has, by far, the most people in jail or prison with 2,121,600 prisoners. The source also said the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate (as of 2016, the latest for available data). prisonstudies.org got their data from the US Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The US’s incarceration rate according to the same source is 655 per 100,000 population (El Salvador is second at 605).

The number of prisoners cited for the U.S. does not include people held in juvenile facilities, or people in jail or prison in U.S. territories and commonwealths such as Puerto Rico and Guam.

Despite having a population more than four times that of the U.S., the country that is second in terms of incarcerated individuals is China with 1,649,804.

 

 

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