Tom Cotton Scorched For Tweet Claiming U.S. Has An 'Under-Incarceration Problem'
Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) Was harshly criticized Tuesday for claiming the US had a "major detention problem" despite the alarmingly large prison population and the world's leading incarceration rate.
“We have a big problem with incarceration in America. And it's only getting worse, ”Cotton tweeted, citing a CNN article on crime rates rising in major US cities in 2020. The article examines a 33% increase in homicides last year due to any number of factors combined could be attributed to, including the deadly global pandemic, a devastated economy, high unemployment, ingrained poverty, civil unrest, changes in the police force and distrust of the police force, rising homelessness and rising arms sales.
According to Cotton, the solution to all of this is to get more people to jail. His idea disgruntled critics, many of whom pointed to better use of resources to reduce crime and maintain healthy communities, and noted America's troubled incarceration statistics.
America has the highest incarceration rate in the world, far ahead of other industrialized nations. In 2020 that number was 655 prisoners per 100,000 people. The USA is followed by El Salvador, Turkmenistan and Thailand.
America's high incarceration rates have also disproportionately affected the minority population. Black Americans are significantly over-represented in prison because of the population. Latinx Americans also make up a larger proportion of the prison population when compared to the US population as a whole.
Cotton, a longtime ally of Donald Trump and a staunch conservative, has previously made his "detention" argument. In 2016, he led the opposition to a bipartisan effort to implement comprehensive criminal justice reforms.
His recent comments immediately sparked an online backlash.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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