The United States of America is the world's largest prison and has the highest inmates/population ratio in the world. A December 5, 2007 report by EFE news agency quoted statistics of US Department of Justice as saying that the number of inmates in US prisons has increased by 500 percent over the last 30 years. By the end of 2006, there were 2.26 million inmates in US prisons, up 2.8 percent from a year ago. The number is the highest over the last six years. The US population only accounted for 5 percent of the world total, but its inmates made up 25 percent of the world total. There were 751 inmates in every 100,000 US citizens, far higher than the rates in other Western countries (EFE news agency, December 5, 2007). Among the inmates, 96 percent were serving sentences of more than one year, which equaled about one in every 200 US citizens serving a sentence of more than a year (Prisoners In 2006, US Department of Justice, www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs). Since the September 11 attacks, reincarceration rate has been rising in the United States. According to statistics, about two thirds of the inmates would commit a second crime within three years after releasing. Two out of three inmates would be caught again after their release and 40 percent would be put behind bars again.
Abusing the inmates is commonplace in US prisons. According to a report released by US Department of Justice in December 2007, an estimated 60,500 inmates, or 4.5 percent of State and Federal inmates, experienced one or more incidents of sexual victimization, 2.9 percent of the inmates reported an incident involving prison staff, 0.5 percent said they had been sexually victimized by both other inmates and staff, 0.8 percent of the inmates were injured as a result of sexual victimization (Sexual Victimization in State and Federal Prisons Reported by Inmates, US Department of Justice, www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs). The US government acknowledged in a January 16, 2007 report that suspected illegal immigrants were mistreated in five prisons, breaching the principle of humane custody (The Washington Post, January 17, 2007). The Washington Post reported on December 17, 2007 that juvenile inmates in a West Texas youth prison were sexually assaulted or beaten and denied medical care. Those who reported the crime got revenged upon and the situation remained unimproved months after the scandal was brought to light. (Dad Dismissed Prison Reform, The Washington Times, December 17, 2007). In January 2008, seven prisoners in Georgia State filed a class-action lawsuit accusing guards and other corrections officers of abusing and torturing them between October 2005 and August 2007, including beating them with batons and special black leather "beating gloves" and ramming inmates' heads against the wall. Media reports said some 40 inmates in other Georgia prisons complained of similar cases, in which guards strapped nude inmates to iron beds or iron chairs, denying them of food, water or access to bathroom for as long as 48 hours, and causing the death of two inmates (International Herald Tribune, January 8, 2008). Guards in American prisons regularly use taser guns. According to a 2007 report from Amnesty International, 230 Americans have died from taser guns since 2001. In July 2006, a prison in Garfield County, Colorado was accused of regularly using taser guns or pepper sprayers on inmates, and then tying them to chairs in awkward positions for hours. In August, prison guards in Arapahoe County of Colorado strapped inmate Raul Gallegos-Reyes to a restraint chair for yelling and knocking on his cell door. He died after being repeatedly stunned with a taser gun.