No wonder Texas wants to violate international court orders, and execute foreigners. With a total population of 23,507,783 (2006 estimate), the number of state prisoners is 71,812. There are also about 9,000 in the various Federal detention centers in the state (and no figures on the numbers in contract concentration camps for aliens). Mexico, with a population of 120,000,000 has a total of 217,457 prisoners in the 442 institutions, which include six federal facilities.Grabman's miscalculations suffered in part from using faulty data. The number he cites for Texas state prisoners (71,812), is actually the figure for how many people are incarcerated in Texas county jails. To that figure should be added the number in state prisons - around 155,000, give or take - bringing the total incarcerated in Texas to more than 226,000 people, or more people in absolute terms than the entire nation of Mexico!
I also think a true apples to apples comparison would require modifying the denominator. Only adults can go to jail or prison, so those under 18 shouldn't be included in the comparison stat. So subtracting the 27.6% of Texans who are under 18, the real Texas figures would be as follows: Texas incarcerates 1.33% of its total adult population.
By contrast, Mexico incarcerates 217,457 people in a nation of 120 million. But again, we must adjust the denominator. I couldn't find apples to apples stats, and I don't know at what age Mexicans are eligible to go to prison, but according to this source 32% of Mexicans are under 15 years old. Comparing the prison population only to those 15 years old and older (approximately 81.6 million), Mexico incarcerates .27% of its adults
In other words, Mexico's adult incarceration rate is approximately 1/5 that of the state of Texas.
Even though Mexico incarcerates people at a much lower rate than the United States, the country currently is experiencing a period of rapid prison growth, with the number of people incarcerated having increased 40.5% since 2000 (from 154,765 in 2000 to 217,457 in 2008).
Of Mexico's low incarceration rate, Richard says "I haven’t come up with any definitive theory to explain it." He offers this observation, though, that certainly is a contributing factor:
In the U.S., every anti-social act is made a crime, and people turn to the police to handle criminal matters. Mexicans, by and large, don’t trust the police (and never have, at least not for the last 400 or so years), seeing them as protectors of the status quo and of wealth, and not of the people. And anti-social acts are dealt with informally.What's more, mass incarceration for nonviolent offenses is a rich country's hobby; poor nations like Mexico simply could never afford to manage social problems like alcoholism and drug use solely through the justice system because of the massive expense. In fact, the United States is rapidly reaching the point where we can't afford it, either.
RELATED: Crime and Punishment in Mexico: The big picture beyond drug cartel violence