4. Incarceration Rates
America is statistically more dangerous than most of Europe, particularly in terms of homicide, even though it is more of a police state than nearly all European countries. A phrase often thrown about in conversations about American incarceration rates is that the U.S. incarcerates more people per capita than any other country in the world. The International Centre for Prison Studies revealed that in 2012, 707 Americans per 100,000 were incarcerated. That figure alone doesn’t sound too shocking, except when compared to only 60 per 100,000 in Sweden, 75 per 100,000 in the Netherlands, 103 per 100,000 in France, 78 per 100,000 in Germany, and the list continues. So what are Europeans doing differently to reduce their incarceration rates so greatly? Certainly, the tyrannical American war on drugs, profiteering of the prison industry and slack gun laws all play a role in increasing the statistical percentage of American criminals in society, but the American sentencing system leans greatly towards incarceration where European sentencing systems lean towards fines and rehabilitation. Where incarceration is used in Europe, a trend shows far shorter sentences than that of the U.S. – European models focus on resocialisation and integrating criminals back into normal society, where the draconian American model focuses on isolation and retribution.
5. Public Transportation Systems
Europe has some of the best, most extensive transportation systems in the world – from Edinburgh to Paris to Rome to Warsaw, it is possible to travel the whole length of Europe without the need for a single plane journey. Mass transit is a way of life for millions of Europeans – this cannot be said for the U.S. For most Americans living outside big cities like New York, life without a car would be entirely impossible. There are many benefits to the European style of public transportation: reduced air pollution, health benefits due to exercise, it’s generally cheaper than driving, and it causes less congestion. More access to public transport services also means reduced opportunities for driving under the influence – a dangerously common crime in America.
The reasons listed above are not to say that Europe isn’t facing some significant problems at the moment: the questioning of the European Union, the rise of nationalism and right-wing populism, as well as harsh austerity measures in Spain, Greece and other countries. But overall, Europe remains one of the most desirable places to live and the time feels right for the U.S. to take a look at some of the things Europeans are doing right.
Image Credits: http://amperart.com/page/2/