From Ezra Klein:
The size of our workforce dedicated to imprisoning mostly-non-violent Americans is not merely equal, but significantly larger, than the workforces of our country’s most massive three employers combined.
Ezra is commenting on this article and, more specifically, this little nugget:
Other industrial democracies, even those with significant crime problems of their own, are much less punitive: our incarceration rate is 6.2 times that of Canada, 7.8 times that of France, and 12.3 times that of Japan. We have a corrections sector that employs more Americans than the combined work forces of General Motors, Ford, and Wal-Mart, the three largest corporate employers in the country, and we are spending some $200 billion annually on law enforcement and corrections at all levels of government, a fourfold increase (in constant dollars) over the past quarter century.
UPDATE: — Be sure to check the comments section, where John Fleck made an excellent point on comparing the different sectors.