Which Democratic Country Has The Harshest Justice System In The World?


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The United States has by far the harshest justice system of any country in the democratic world. What sets the US apart from most other western democracies, is that the justice system allows for multiple and consecutive jail terms, lengthy prison sentences even for corporate and non-violent crime, strict parole eligibility conditions and the use of the death penalty in a majority of American states. In the US, it is not uncommon for judges to hand down a separate sentence for each count of felony. For example, if someone is convicted fraud, he/she would be given a maximum sentence of 5 years in jail for each count. This means that four counts of fraud could lead to a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Committing assault with a deadly weapon could land the convicted criminal 20 years in prison for single count, but if he/she is charged with three counts, the judge would be permitted to impose a 60 year sentence. This unique form of sentencing means that in those states where the death penalty has been abolished, those convicted of serious, violent crimes often receive several life sentences, thus ensuring that they will be ineligible parole and will die in prison. Parole eligibility for those convicted of non-violent crimes is much stricter in America than in the United Kingdom or Canada. In the US, felons must serve more than two thirds of their sentence before they are eligible for parole, while those charged with non-violent crimes can be released from prison after having completed one third of their sentence in Canada, or half of their sentence in the UK.

According to a 2008 report by Amnesty International, the United States also has the harshest justice system of any democratic county, when it comes to imprisoning young offenders. Almost all of the children who face permanent or life-long imprisonment live in the US. In fact, there are 2,270 children serving multiple life sentences in America. In stark contrast, the only other countries that allow for such harsh treatment are Israel, with seven kids permanently behind bars, South Africa with four such offenders and Tanzania with a single child known to be serving an indeterminate life sentence.

America also executes more convicts than any other country in the world, except for China, which is a communist, one-party regime with a population more than three times the size of the United States. Capital punishment is still legal in 30 out of 50 American states, and the US executed 1,165 people since 1976. Texas carries out by far the largest number of executions each year.

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