Miriam Greenland attempts to campaign for shorter prison sentences by comparing incarceration rates between the U.S. and Japan ("Why the Disparity?" Jan. 9). Her stats, based on population rather than term length, are a meaningless comparison.
The disparity isn't term length, but the cultural differences between the U.S. and Japan. Japanese are taught from birth to respect each other. It's likely the only developed world culture where you could lose a wallet on the street of any Japanese city and pick it up, still full of money, at the local police station. If the city has a large foreign population, you probably wouldn't be so lucky.
The per capita of incarceration isn't due to short terms as much as it is due to a culture of respect and consideration.