Human rights behind bars. Paying a debt that keeps on growing

AutorPablo Sartorio
P S
Carlos III University of Madrid, Spain
No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its
jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest
citizens but its lowest ones.
- Nelson Mandela - “Long Walk to Freedom”. Book by
Nelson Mandela, 1995.
The US has been known to be the beacon of freedom and where
people go to make dreams come through. A place where the promise for
all is that you are only limited by your imagination and anyone can realize
the American dream if you just put in the work. No matter who you are,
you can come from humble beginnings and with only the clothes on your
back, you can realize your highest potential and this is only possible in
the US. Sounds incredible, doesn´t? However, the US is also infamously
known for being the biggest incarcerator in the globe, keeping close to
2.3 million people behind bars, including federal, local, and military
facilities. (Sawyer and Wagner, 2019ś Pfa , 2017, 10). To put things
into perspective, the US holds fi ve percent of the global population but
houses twenty-fi ve percent of its prisoners. (American University, 2018).
When adding the number of individuals (adults) under supervision the
total amount of individuals the control of the criminal justice system
is just north of 6 million people. (Kaeble, 2018, 1). All in the name of
safety. To put that number into perspective, the Madrid metropolitan area,
the third-largest metropolitan area in the European Union, is estimated
to have 4,955,432 habitants. (Eurostat, 2019, 27). Incarcerating this

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