Guantanamo Bay Michelle Shephard/ZumaPress

La economía prisionera de los Estados Unidos

BERKELEY – Los Estados Unidos tienen el 5% de la población mundial y el 25% de la población carcelaria del mundo –alrededor de 2.2 millones de personas, 5 veces más que en 1980. Uno de cada 100 adultos estadounidenses está en la cárcel –la tasa per cápita más alta del planeta, 5 a 10 veces superior que en Europa Occidental u otras democracias. El costo social y económico es igualmente elevado.

El aumento explosivo de la población carcelaria en los Estados Unidos en las últimas décadas es el resultado del fortalecimiento de las medidas punitivas de prevención del delito, que incluyen sanciones más duras para los delitos relacionados con las drogas y sentencias mínimas obligatorias, complementadas con cifras crecientes de policías y otros oficiales encargados de aplicar la ley. Más allá de los costos financieros que supone el incremento de las fuerzas policiacas y la mayor presión sobre el sistema judicial está el gasto de 60 mil millones de dólares anuales en las prisiones estatales y federales en comparación con los doce mil millones de dólares que se gastaron hace veinte años. Además, hay que tomar en cuenta los enormes costos para los prisioneros  (muchos de los cuales están encarcelados por delitos no violentos) y para sus familias y comunidades, costos que recaen de manera desproporcionada en los pobres, los que no tienen educación, los afroamericanos, los latinos y los enfermos mentales.

Tal vez la peor parte es que los beneficios previstos del enfoque de hacer más estricta la ley de los Estados Unidos no se han concretado. En efecto, la correlación entre tasas mayores de encarcelamiento y tasas menores de delitos cometidos es baja.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.


Log in;
  1. Television sets showing a news report on Xi Jinping's speech Anthony Wallace/Getty Images

    Empowering China’s New Miracle Workers

    China’s success in the next five years will depend largely on how well the government manages the tensions underlying its complex agenda. In particular, China’s leaders will need to balance a muscular Communist Party, setting standards and protecting the public interest, with an empowered market, driving the economy into the future.

  2. United States Supreme Court Hisham Ibrahim/Getty Images

    The Sovereignty that Really Matters

    The preference of some countries to isolate themselves within their borders is anachronistic and self-defeating, but it would be a serious mistake for others, fearing contagion, to respond by imposing strict isolation. Even in states that have succumbed to reductionist discourses, much of the population has not.

  3.  The price of Euro and US dollars Daniel Leal Olivas/Getty Images

    Resurrecting Creditor Adjustment

    When the Bretton Woods Agreement was hashed out in 1944, it was agreed that countries with current-account deficits should be able to limit temporarily purchases of goods from countries running surpluses. In the ensuing 73 years, the so-called "scarce-currency clause" has been largely forgotten; but it may be time to bring it back.

  4. Leaders of the Russian Revolution in Red Square Keystone France/Getty Images

    Trump’s Republican Collaborators

    Republican leaders have a choice: they can either continue to collaborate with President Donald Trump, thereby courting disaster, or they can renounce him, finally putting their country’s democracy ahead of loyalty to their party tribe. They are hardly the first politicians to face such a decision.

  5. Angela Merkel, Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron John Thys/Getty Images

    How Money Could Unblock the Brexit Talks

    With talks on the UK's withdrawal from the EU stalled, negotiators should shift to the temporary “transition” Prime Minister Theresa May officially requested last month. Above all, the negotiators should focus immediately on the British budget contributions that will be required to make an orderly transition possible.

  6. Ksenia Sobchak Mladlen Antonov/Getty Images

    Is Vladimir Putin Losing His Grip?

    In recent decades, as President Vladimir Putin has entrenched his authority, Russia has seemed to be moving backward socially and economically. But while the Kremlin knows that it must reverse this trajectory, genuine reform would be incompatible with the kleptocratic character of Putin’s regime.

  7. Right-wing parties hold conference Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images

    Rage Against the Elites

    • With the advantage of hindsight, four recent books bring to bear diverse perspectives on the West’s current populist moment. 
    • Taken together, they help us to understand what that moment is and how it arrived, while reminding us that history is contingent, not inevitable

    Global Bookmark

    Distinguished thinkers review the world’s most important new books on politics, economics, and international affairs.

  8. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Bill Clark/Getty Images

    Don’t Bank on Bankruptcy for Banks

    As a part of their efforts to roll back the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, congressional Republicans have approved a measure that would have courts, rather than regulators, oversee megabank bankruptcies. It is now up to the Trump administration to decide if it wants to set the stage for a repeat of the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008.