That's right. If you want to stay out of prison you'd be more free in China and Iran.
The United States incarcerates more people than any country in the world, including the far more populous nation of China. At the start of the new year, the American penal system held more than 2.3 million adults. China was second, with 1.5 million people behind bars, and Russia was a distant third with 890,000 inmates, according to the latest available figures. Beyond the sheer number of inmates, America also is the global leader in the rate at which it incarcerates its citizenry, outpacing nations like South Africa and Iran. In Germany, 93 people are in prison for every 100,000 adults and children. In the U.S, the rate is roughly eight times that, or 750 per 100,000.Beyond the sheer number of those incarcerated in the US the racial composition of this group is also of interest. In 2008 1 out of 9 black men between the ages of 20-34 were incarcerated. For whites over the age of 18 the incarceration rate was 1 out of 106. The US incarcerates more of it racial minority populations than any nation in the world. As a comparison, the US incarcerates a greater proportion of its black citizens than did South Africa under apartheid.
--from One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008, Pew Report
The problem worsens when you go on to consider life after prison. Those who leave prison with a felony conviction are effectively disenfranchised, politically and economically. Upon leaving prison, or merely taking a plea bargain to avoid prison, you will find yourself unable to vote. Functionally, what we are witnessing in America is what some have called "the New Jim Crow" where under the label "the War on Drugs" (started under Nixon and ramped up under Reagan) black men are being swept up into the prison system and being removed from voting rolls.
In addition, with a felony conviction on your record your ability to get a job is greatly impaired. And yet, with a felony conviction, you will be unable to apply for federal assistance to help feed yourself or your family. You are also unable to receive federal loans to pursue higher education to better your life. You are, in effect, locked into a life of poverty, with all the generational effects that might have.
All this, perhaps, wouldn't be so bad if black men used drugs more than white men. But that's not the case. Drug use is the same. The only difference is that blacks are arrested, convicted and, thus, politically and economically disenfranchised at a higher rate.