The United States has more people living in prisons than any other country.

According to some estimates, 25% of the planet's prison population is in the USA — nearly 7 million people in 2013.

Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images.


Despite the fact that violent crime has been steadily declining in recent years, America's incarceration rate has tripled since 1980.

We've been locking people away with such regularity that we actually started to run out of space. That's why about 10 years ago, the government began working with private contractors to open up private or "for profit" prisons for housing excess of inmates — a practice that has soared into a $70 billion industry.

But that's about to change: On Aug. 18, 2016, Sally Yates announced the Department of Justice will phase out the federal use of private prisons.

As you might be able to imagine, when you add the words "privately owned" to a prison, the effects aren't great. What was once a correctional system has turned into a profit-engine whose fuel is prisoners.

Time and time again, the prison industrial complex has been found to be corrupt, abusive, inhumane, and unsafe.

Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images.

"Private prisons served an important role during a difficult period," said Deputy Attorney General Yates in her memo.

"But time has shown thatthey compare poorly to our own Bureau facilities. They simply do not provide the same level ofcorrectional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and asnoted in a recent report by the Department's Office of Inspector General, they do not maintainthe same level of safety and security."

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

This isn't the only positive change we've seen in the prison system lately either.

In recent years, prison populations have been declining. There are many factors to this: crime reduction, policy reforms, and improved public safety, to name a few.

There's also the fact that the vast majority of people we lock up have committed drug offenses, and in 2010, more than half of the drug arrests made were for marijuana — a drug that's now legal in many states. As we decriminalize marijuana, prison population numbers are likely to drop even lower — yet another reason to close private prisons.

While these prisons won't be closing overnight, DOJ officials have been ordered to end or "substantially reduce" their contracts with them.

Yates speaking in June 2016. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

There are still many problems to fix within our justice system, including (and especially) the rulings and laws that caused these high prison population problems and necessitated the use of private prisons in the first place.

But this is a big step in the right direction.

This article originally appeared on November 11, 2015


Remember those beloved Richard Scarry books from when you were a kid?

Like a lot of people, I grew up reading them. And now, I read them to my kids.

The best!

If that doesn't ring a bell, perhaps this character from the "Busytown" series will. Classic!

Image via

Scarry was an incredibly prolific children's author and illustrator. He created over 250 books during his career. His books were loved across the world — over 100 million were sold in many languages.

But here's something you may not have known about these classics: They've been slowly changing over the years.

Don't panic! They've been changing in a good way.

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Images from Instagram and Wikipedia

It’s true that much of our wildlife is in danger. Like, an alarmingly large amount. In 2021 alone, 22 species were declared extinct in the United States.

And globally, Earth is facing what scientists refer to as its “sixth mass extinction,” primarily thanks to human activity. You know, deforestation, climate change, overconsumption, overpopulation, industrial farming, poaching … the usual suspects.

It sounds like dystopian science fiction, but sadly, it’s the reality we are currently living in.

But today, there is a silver lining. Because the World Wildlife Fund recently reported 224 completely new species.

From a snake who channels David Bowie to a monkey with ivory spectacles, there are a lot of newly discovered creatures here to offer a bit of hope to otherwise bleak statistics.

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"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937) and actor Peter Dinklage.

On Tuesday, Upworthy reported that actor Peter Dinklage was unhappy with Disney’s decision to move forward with a live-action version of “Snow White and the Seven Drawfs” starring Rachel Zegler.

Dinklage praised Disney’s inclusive casting of the “West Side Story” actress, whose mother is of Colombian descent, but pointed out that, at the same time, the company was making a film that promotes damaging stereotypes about people with dwarfism.

"There's a lot of hypocrisy going on, I've gotta say, from being somebody who's a little bit unique," Dinklage told Marc Maron on his “WTF” podcast.

"Well, you know, it's really progressive to cast a—literally no offense to anybody, but I was a little taken aback by, they were very proud to cast a Latino actress as Snow White," Dinklage said, "but you're still telling the story of 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.' Take a step back and look at what you're doing there.”

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