Time Essay: U.S. Prisons: Myth vs. Mayhem

In the endless effort to cope with one of the world's higher crime rates, the U.S. has long sent more people to prison for longer terms than any other industrialized Western nation except South Africa. Yet the country's penal institutions add up to a national disgrace. Riotous prison disorders have become so common that it was only second-rate news last March when a guard was wounded and several others were taken hostage during a mutiny of 100 or so inmates in a Newark, N.J., jail. In fact, the event seemed trivial only because it came so soon after the epic mayhem...

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