It is not without irony that President Obama recently announced his plan to offer two free years of community college.
Not only does the U.S. have the highest incarceration rate in the world, with a national incarceration rate of 707 adults per every 100,000, but in fact has more jails and prisons than degree-granting colleges and universities.
The Washington Post gives the sobering stats: 1,800 state and federal correctional facilities on top of 3,200 local and county jails, a total of approximately 5,000. This is compared to 4,599 degree-granting universities as of 2011. In areas like the South, there are more people in prisons than on college campuses, according to the Post.
How did we get to this point?
In short, it is due to the sheer number of unconstitutional federal laws that are enforced not only by the feds, but through the states as well.
In particular, the War on Drugs bears a huge burden of responsibility for the glaringly high prison population. Between 2001 and 2013, more than half of prisoners serving sentences of more than a year in federal facilities were convicted of drug offenses, compared to 16 percent in 1970. In 2012, drug offenders comprised 16 percent of the total state prison population.
But this is just one of many federal laws, which are so numerous that repeated attempts at counting them all have failed. One two-year study tallied up 3,000 criminal offenses, but it was only an estimate.