The United States imprisons more than two million people, which is more than a quarter of the world's incarcerated. Like so much of government life in this country, many prison employees are unionized and their leaders agitate for more prisoners in order to keep this unholy industry going.
Daniel J. D'Amico, who will teach a course this summer with the Mises Institute with the same name as the title of this post, gives a brief history of the mentality that goes behind this drive to incarcerate. Like so many other public evils in this society, the drive to fill and expand prisons comes from a tag team effort of both liberals and conservatives.
Before he left his office of U.S. attorney general, John Ashcroft spoke to fawning employees of the Heritage Foundation, telling them how wonderful it was that the prison population is growing, claiming that throwing more people into prison was responsible for lowering the nation's crime rate. On the other side of the political spectrum, liberals have believed that the answer to "crime" is to create new "crimes" that fall within their mantra of Political Correctness.
And then there is the Drug War, which also is driven by both the political and social attitudes of liberals and conservatives, along with police and prison guard unions. So, we see a huge social disaster unfold, yet those in power only make things worse.