Land of the free

From Encyclopedia Britannia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Land of the free is a satirical phrase used to described the faux sense of freedom that American people feel, and profess to have, in the United States of America.

CCTV & Surveillance

The United States has more surveillance cameras per person than any country on Earth, including China.[1][2][3] Other data shows that the United States is only on par with China.[4][5]

According to the data collected by, China, the United States, and Germany are the countries with the largest number of surveillance cameras in the world. China is the undisputed leader with four times more surveillance cameras installed in its territory than the United States, but the USA has more Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) cameras per capita.[6]

Research by Comparitech showed the average city has around six cameras per 1,000 people but the most-watched city, Atlanta, had almost 50 cameras per 1,000 people.[7][8]

Many American cities have been aggressive in putting in surveillance infrastructure[9][10], including Detroit, which recently installed cameras to monitor public housing residents[11], and Baltimore[12], whose police department conducted secret aerial surveillance of residents for several years[13]. Police departments have also partnered with Amazon's Ring[14], a doorbell camera, to push the product among local homeowners, effectively encouraging citizens to monitor each other.

American police forces regularly use Unmanned Arial Vehicles (UAVs) to help them with law enforcement and surveillance.[15][16][17][18][19] The New York City Police Department, the largest police department in the country, is continuing to use surveillance drones made by a Chinese company that the U.S. government has made moves to ban, labelling it a “national security threat” that may provide “U.S. critical infrastructure and law enforcement data to the Chinese government.”[20]

Incarceration rates

A map of U.S. states by adult incarceration rate per 100,000 adult population. State prisons and local jails. Excludes federal prisoners.

In September 2013, the incarceration rate of the United States of America was the highest in the world at 716 per 100,000 of the national population; by 2019 it had fallen to 419 per 100,000.[21] Between 2019 and 2020, the United States saw a significant drop in the total number of incarcerations. State and federal prison and local jail incarcerations dropped by 14% from 2.1 million in 2019 to 1.8 million in mid-2020.[22] While the United States represents about 4.2 percent of the world's population,[23] it houses around 20 percent of the world's prisoners.[24] Corrections (which includes prisons, jails, probation, and parole) cost around $74 billion in 2007 according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).[25][26] According to the Justice Expenditures and Employment in the United States, 2017 report release by BJS, it’s estimated that county and municipal governments spent roughly $30 billion USD on corrections in 2017.[27][28]

As of their March 2020 publication, the Prison Policy Initiative, a non-profit organization for decarceration, estimated that in the United States, about 2.3 million people were or are currently incarcerated. Of those who were incarcerated, 1,291,000 people were in state prison, 631,000 in local jails, 226,000 in federal prisons, 44,000 in youth correctional facilities, 42,000 in immigration detention camps, 22,000 in involuntary commitment, 11,000 in territorial prisons, 2,500 in Indian Country jails, and 1,300 in United States military prisons.[29]

The stats source is the World Prison Population List. 8th edition. Prisoners per 100,000 population.[30]

Comparing some countries with similar percentages of immigrants, Germany has an incarceration rate of 76 per 100,000 population (as of 2014),[31] Italy is 85 per 100,000 (as of 2015),[32] and Saudi Arabia is 161 per 100,000 (as of 2013).[33] Comparing other countries with a zero tolerance policy for illegal drugs, the rate of Russia is 455 per 100,000 (as of 2015),[34] Kazakhstan is 275 per 100,000 (as of 2015),[35] Singapore is 220 per 100,000 (as of 2014),[36] and Sweden is 60 per 100,000 (as of 2014).[37]

There are places in the United States where American citizens are detained at described "Black Sites". The Chicago Police Department's Homan Square facility is a former Sears Roebuck & Co. warehouse on the city's West Side. The facility houses the department's Evidence and Recovered Property Section. In 2015, the facility gained worldwide notoriety when the American journalist Spencer Ackerman wrote a series of articles in The Guardian comparing it to a CIA Black site.[38] It has since been described as a "secret torture site."[39] Alleged police practices at Homan Square[40], according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases. Beating by police, resulting in head wounds. Shackling for prolonged periods. Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility. Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.[41]

At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead. It remains in operation today.


Crossing the road at a non-government or state approved spot is a criminal offence in the United States. State road rules in the United States usually require a driver to yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing a road when the pedestrian crosses at a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk. Unmarked crosswalks generally exist as the logical extensions of sidewalks at intersections with approximately right angles. Following the Uniform Vehicle Code, state codes often do not prohibit a pedestrian from crossing a roadway between intersections if at least one of the two adjacent intersections is not controlled by a signal, but they stipulate that a pedestrian not at a crosswalk must yield the right of way to approaching drivers. State codes often permit pedestrians to use roads that are not controlled access facilities and without sidewalks but such use is usually regulated. For example, in Florida they must keep to the shoulder of the leftmost side of the road and yield to any oncoming traffic.[42]

State codes may include provisions that allow local authorities to prohibit pedestrian crossing at locations outside crosswalks, but since municipal pedestrian ordinances are often not well known to drivers or pedestrians and can vary from place to place in a metropolitan area that contains many municipalities, obtaining compliance with local prohibitions of pedestrian crossings much more restrictive than statewide pedestrian regulations can be difficult. Signs, fences, and barriers of various types (including planted hedges) have been used to prohibit and prevent pedestrian crossing at some locations. If the detour to a legal crossing would be highly inconvenient, even fences are sometimes not effective. Street design, traffic design, and locations of major building entrances that make crosswalks the most logical and practical locations to cross streets are usually more effective than police enforcement to reduce illegal or reckless pedestrian crossings.[citation needed]

At a signaled crossing, a pedestrian is subject to the applicable pedestrian traffic signal or, if no pedestrian signal is displayed, the signal indications for the parallel vehicular movement. A pedestrian signal permits a pedestrian to begin crossing a street during the "Walk" display; pedestrians are usually considered to be "jaywalking" only if they enter the crosswalk some other time. The meanings of pedestrian signal indications are summarised in Section 4E.02 of the national Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.[43]

Jaywalking is considered an infraction, but in some jurisdictions, it is a misdemeanor or requires a court appearance.[citation needed] The penalty is usually a fine. In some cities, such as New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston, although prohibited, "jaywalking" has been so common that police generally cite or detain jaywalkers only if their behavior is considered excessively dangerous or disruptive, such as running out in front of a moving vehicle or crossing after the light is about to change to allow cross traffic to proceed. Penalties for jaywalking vary by state, and, within a state, may vary by county or municipality. A sampling of US cities found fines ranging from $1 to $1,000.[44]

In May 2017, a Boston Globe reporter spent the day attempting to get a citation for jaywalking in downtown traffic. The reporter walked against lights, crossed in the middle of streets, and across the middle of blocks and did not receive a ticket, even when committing infractions in front of police officers.[45]

Jaywalking at a signalised intersection may carry higher fines in some jurisdictions for disobeying the signalised controls. Many jurisdictions have a separate law defining the difference between jaywalking, or "disobedience of traffic signal controls." Some jurisdictions may fine pedestrians up to the same amount as a vehicle running a red light, but no driving points are issued, as the pedestrian was not driving at the time.

Safety considerations

In the United States, jaywalking is linked to pedestrian injuries and fatalities,[46] but no available data provide an exact risk rate because of missing jaywalking frequency data.[46]

In the United States, jaywalking is mainly an urban issue (71%), but it can also be a suburban or rural issue when no pavement is available.[46]

In the United States, jaywalking might be understood as:

  • walking against a pedestrian walk signal,
  • crossing a street where there is no crosswalk (midblock crossing),
  • crossing a street outside of a marked crosswalk where one is present, and
  • walking on a street along with the traffic flow (ignoring designated pedestrian pathways).[46]

However other pedestrian behaviour might be considered as unsafe while not qualified of jaywalking, for instance, failing to yield (both drivers and pedestrians), jogging/walking in the wrong direction, working on a parked car, leaning on a parked car, pushing a disabled car, standing between parked cars, and standing in a road.[46]

Some pedestrian factors that lead to a jaywalking behavior were found to be pedestrian perceptions of risk, consumption of alcohol, perceptions of crossing devices, speed and pace of life, speed versus crossing-device speed, perceptions of enforcement risk, unawareness of pedestrian laws and safety, following the leader.

Some known environmental factors include absence of midblock crosswalks, width of roads, poor timing of crossing signals, poor conditions of sidewalks, absence of sidewalks in certain areas, capacity of sidewalks, weather, people with limited mobility, people with occupational risks, children and teens, parking areas near shopping centers, street repair and construction sites, major highways, one-way streets, location of attractions, unlawful street-vending.[46]

Racial bias

Differences by race in charging of pedestrians for jaywalking has led to assertions of racial bias and proposals to end considering jaywalking to be an offense.

In California, Assemblymember Phil Ting has proposed decriminalizing jaywalking.[47] The bill, AB 1238, The Freedom To Walk Act, passed the California Assembly on June 2, 2021.[48]

Seattle City Council members Bruce Harrell and Lorena González raised issues of bias in jaywalking tickets in that city as well.[49]


A common point of ridicule from those outside the United States is the common occurrence of arrests, fines, and even jail time for not mowing your lawn on your own property.

While some of these stem from Home Owners Associations (HOAs), most are caused by infractions of city mandates by local governments. City limits on maximum grass height vary across the United States but neighbours are encouraged to report any violations of both commercial or residential property.[50][51][52][53][54][55][56][57][58][59][60][61][62]

South Carolina Women Goes To Jail For Not Mowing Her Grass

Woman Goes to Jail for Not Mowing Lawn in Tennessee

Texas man jailed for not mowing his yard

This man in Florida was fined 30k, and the city foreclosed on his home for not cutting his grass in Florida

What's worse, is they upheld the fine in court as reasonable!


Freedom Indexes


  21. US Department of Justice, Oct. 22, 2020, [1]
  22. Kang-Brown, Jacob; Montagnet, Chase; Heiss, Jasmine (January 2021). "People in Jail and Prison in 2020" (PDF).
  23. "[T]he world population ...was estimated to have reached 7,800,000,000 people as of March 2020." Meanwhile, "The United States had an official resident population of 331,449,281 on April 1, 2020", according to the Wikipedia articles accessed 2021-09-26. 331.448/7900 = 0.042.
  24. Lua error in Module:Cite_Q at line 13: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value). Table 7, p. 17, gives numbers for "World prison population levels" including separate numbers for "Americas" and "[Americas] without U.S.A." for 2000 and 2020. Subtracting "[Americas] without U.S.A." from "Americas" gives U.S.A. Dividing those numbers by the World total gives 22 percent for 2000, the previous number used in this article prior to modifying this reference to cite the 12th edition, and 20 percent for 2020.
  25. Direct expenditures by justice function, 1982-2007 (billions of dollars). Inflation adjusted to 2007 dollars. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Retrieved 1 Jan 2012 by the Internet Archive. See BJS timeline graph based on the data.
  26. Justice Expenditures and Employment, FY 1982-2007 - Statistical Tables (NCJ 236218). Published December 2011. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). By Tracey Kyckelhahn, Ph.D., BJS statistician. See table 2 of the PDF. "Total justice expenditures, by justice function, FY 1982–2007 (real dollars)". A total of around $74 billion for corrections in 2007.
  27. "Justice Expenditures and Employment in the United States, 2017". Bureau of Justice Statistics (in English). Retrieved 2021-07-27.
  28. "Justice Expenditures and Employment in the United States, 2017" (PDF). U.S. Department of Justice; Office of Justice Programs; Bureau of Justice Statistics. July 2021.
  29. Initiative, Prison Policy; Wagner, Wendy Sawyer and Peter. "Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2020". (in English). Retrieved 2021-07-27.
  30. World Prison Population List. 8th edition. By Roy Walmsley. Published in 2009. From World Prison Population Lists. International Centre for Prison Studies. School of Law, King's College London. "The information is the latest available in early December 2008. ... More than 9.8 million people are held in penal institutions throughout the world, mostly as pre-trial detainees (remand prisoners) or as sentenced prisoners."
  31. Germany. International Centre for Prison Studies.
  32. Italy. International Centre for Prison Studies.
  33. Saudi Arabia. International Centre for Prison Studies.
  34. Russia. International Centre for Prison Studies.
  35. Kazakhstan. International Centre for Prison Studies.
  36. Singapore. International Centre for Prison Studies.
  37. Sweden. International Centre for Prison Studies.
  42. "Hit By a Car: Pedestrian Accidents in Florida | South Florida Personal Injury & Car Accident Blog". 11 December 2014. Retrieved 2018-02-10.
  43. "Part 4, Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, Federal Highway Administration, 2003" (PDF).
  44. Peter DeMarco (2006-08-06). "Boston". Boston. Retrieved 2010-04-04.
  45. Arnett, Dugan (2017-05-25). "What does a guy have to do to get a jaywalking ticket in this town?". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2017-05-25.
  46. 46.0 46.1 46.2 46.3 46.4 46.5 Heinonen, Justin A.; Eck, John E. (2007). "Pedestrian Injuries & Fatalities". ASU Center for Problem-Oriented Policing.
  47. Wayne Freedman (26 March 2021). "Bay Area lawmaker seeks to decriminalize jaywalking, cites racial bias in enforcement". ABC 7 News. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  48. Vanguard staff (2021-06-03). "Bill That Would Decriminalize Jaywalking Passes State Assembly". Davis Vanguard. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  49. Josh Cohen (2017-08-03). "Seattle Council Member Questions Jaywalking Law". Next City. Retrieved 2021-06-04.