06/28/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

FBI Increases What Already Is the Highest Incarceration Rate in the World

Robert MuellerImage via WikipediaI just read that 406 people have been arrested in the States by the FBI in "Operation Malicious Mortgage". Just in case there were any doubts, this was part of the announcement:

To people who have committed fraud or are contemplating doing so, FBI Director Robert Mueller said: 'We will find you, you will be investigated and you will be prosecuted'.

And he means it because 406 people is a huge amount of new detainees. This should come as no surprise since "toughness on crime" is so American. According to Wikipedia the USA has the highest incarceration rate in the world, one in 32 grown ups are in jail or parole. USA has more people in jail than repressive Communist China who has over a billion people.

I lived in the States for 18 years and I was sorry to see how popular it was for politicians to be tough on crime, rather relying on education and prevention. Having lived in Europe for over 10 years now I believe that, even though we err on the side of leniency, it is best to invest in education rather than incarceration.

I find it hard to believe that when the FBI makes massive arrests makes no mistakes. I keep hearing horror stories of friends of mine who get arrested by mistake just trying to enter the US (mostly because Spanish citizens have the same last names as US Hispanics being searched by FBI). And then there are the horror stories of people who were executed or on death row and found innocent.

I know that in the US people think of justice more as a form of revenge than a chance to read just people to society. I also know that the subprime scandal has led to enormous losses and people are eager to find malicious mortgage brokers. But if they are really going to put people in jail, how about starting with the people at the Federal Reserve who were asleep at the wheel while the overlending took place?