Here’s to prisons, a great American institution, nay a tradition! As we speak, 2.3 million are incarcerated. Another 5 million are on parole or probation in the U.S. What an institution(s)!

Hats off to Ronald Reagan who got the ball (and chain) rolling! Hats off to the War on Drugs, and mandatory sentencing! Since 1980, the prison population has tripled! The cost is $30,000 or so per year per inmate. As for rehabilitation, half the prisoners return after three years. Privatized prison construction and inmate management, not to mention detention centers, is a $5 billion industry and growing every day thanks to innovative and dynamic lobbying. Hurray for capitalism!

Thanks to racial profiling and innovative policing methods (see Ferguson, Mo and Staten Island, NY), nearly 40% of the prison population is African American. Native Americans and Hispanics are also well represented! Per capita, the USA incarcerates nearly ten times as many as the European nations. God bless America and remember to do your Holiday shopping early!

Here’s an old prison song. There are lots of folk songs about prison. Talk about strange. As I say, it’s an American tradition. I learned this one from a Flatt & Scruggs record. images-4