Jail Nation

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posted on Aug, 20 2007 @ 04:39 PM
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Jail Nation


www.alternet.org

With five percent of the world's population, the U.S. has close to a quarter of the world's prisoners. How did the American criminal justice system go so wrong?
How can you tell when a democracy is dead? When concentration camps spring up and everyone shivers in fear? Or is it when concentration camps spring up and no one shivers in fear because everyone knows they're not for "people like us" (in Woody Allen's marvelous phrase) but for the others, the troublemakers, the ones you can tell are guilty merely by the color of their skin, the shape of their nose or their social class?
(visit the link for the full news article)




posted on Aug, 20 2007 @ 04:39 PM
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Thats one hell of a stat - 5% of the planets population, nearly one quarter of the planets prisoners.

Is this an indictment of a violent nation?
Or is it that the US locks up more people for other reasons.
Not being a US citizen, I can't answer, but I'm horrified by the information - 2.2 million behind bars, 5 million on probation or parole.
I think that there are probably social factors at work here as well, but I just can't get away from those numbers......

For clarity, here's some stats from other countries:
Prison Population by Country

www.alternet.org
(visit the link for the full news article)


[edit on 20/8/2007 by budski]



posted on Aug, 20 2007 @ 05:40 PM
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There is a recent case of the FBI setting up 2 men for murder. They were in prison for 30 years. There are also many cases of people who should have gone to prison that didn't. Of course it's harder to prove that the government set people up than it is for letting criminals go. I live in a small city (56,000 people) and there isn't much violence here. Its just alcohol is being cracked down on. It is illegal to be "under the influence" on city streets these days. This town has 3 universities and at one point the highest concentration of bars in one area. Now it is illegal for these students to walk home from the bars if they display signs of slurred speech, red eyes, abnormal walking. These students are put on electronic monitoring for a first offense, second offense is jail. Stupid things like this cause the 2 year old jail to already be over crowded.



posted on Aug, 20 2007 @ 05:48 PM
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The real reason we have such a massive prison population is from three main causes.

1. We make things illegal/prison time that should'nt be.
2. We have unfair sentencing times, for instance someone selling pot gets more
time than a rapist.
3. We don't focus enough on rehabilitation, rather we just have people sitting there
for there time and than being released (assuming they have'nt gotten multiple
life sentences), upon which they have a considerable chance of going out and recommitting
the crime when if they had been rehabilitated that chance would be incredibly smaller.



posted on Aug, 20 2007 @ 05:54 PM
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Point taken, but I think there's more to this than just enforcing anti social behaviour laws.
I've been having a look at some dept of justice figures, and there is a definite correlation between race and prison stats:


At yearend 2005 there were 3,145 black male sentenced prison inmates per 100,000 black males in the United States, compared to 1,244 Hispanic male inmates per 100,000 Hispanic males and 471 white male inmates per 100,000 white males.

source

and

www.ojp.usdoj.gov...

And this is also worth a look:
www.hrw.org...

It seems that more crime is committed by non white ethnic groups, but why is this?

I know some of the factors that drive this in the UK, but this is the US we are talking about.
I'm aghast in some respects by the disparity of per capita prisoners by ethnic group.



posted on Aug, 20 2007 @ 06:15 PM
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I've found some more info on this on the Human Rights Watch website:


Contrary to popular perception, violent crime is not responsible for the quadrupling of the incarcerated population in the United States since 1980. In fact, violent crime rates have been relatively constant or declining over the past two decades. The exploding prison population has been propelled by public policy changes that have increased the use of prison sentences as well as the length of time served, e.g. through mandatory minimum sentencing, "three strikes" laws, and reductions in the availability of parole or early release.

Although these policies were championed as protecting the public from serious and violent offenders, they have instead yielded high rates of confinement of nonviolent offenders. Nearly three quarters of new admissions to state prison were convicted of nonviolent crimes.2 Only 49 percent of sentenced state inmates are held for violent offenses.3

Perhaps the single greatest force behind the growth of the prison population has been the national "war on drugs." The number of incarcerated drug offenders has increased twelvefold since 1980. In 2000, 22 percent of those in federal and state prisons were convicted on drug charges.4

Even more troubling than the absolute number of persons in jail or prison is the extent to which those men and women are African-American. Although blacks account for only 12 percent of the U.S. population, 44 percent of all prisoners in the United States are black

source

also very interesting is figure 2, which shows

Ratio of Percent of Blacks Among Resident Population to Blacks Among Incarcerated Population

Scroll down for map and breakdown by state.

This is also interesting, but disturbing:
www.thirdworldtraveler.com...

Obviously these sites have an agenda (at least of sorts) but it's hard to argue against the stats.

One of the man things the HRW site talks about is the "zero tolerance" policy on drugs - but this simply begs the question of why drugs are so much more prevalent in ethnic minority groups.



posted on Aug, 20 2007 @ 06:15 PM
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Non- whites are usually more poor and get involved in stealing, gangs, ect. The suburban white has less of a reason to commit stealing ect, it is two different ways of life.



posted on Aug, 20 2007 @ 06:19 PM
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Originally posted by mnmcandiez
Non- whites are usually more poor and get involved in stealing, gangs, ect. The suburban white has less of a reason to commit stealing ect, it is two different ways of life.


yes, I understand this, but why does this happen, in the days of supposed equality.
Are you saying that racial prejudice is endemic in the US? in the form of equality in the workplace, and education?

Please understand, that as a UK citizen I have no real conception of race relations in the US (except for what I see/read in the news), and I ask in a non inflammatory way for information purposes.



posted on Aug, 20 2007 @ 06:50 PM
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I think it has something to do with education. If you live in a poor area, generally the crime is higher. The higher the crime, the more fear. The more fear, the less good teachers are willing to risk their well being to teach kids in the "ghetto." Teachers in big cities have to deal with drugs, gangs, weapons, violence on a daily basis. As much as people hate stereotyping people, sometimes those stereotypes are true. Many poor kids living in the hoods or projects come from a fatherless home, mother gone working multiple jobs with no supervision. They are taught to look upto gang members through the music they listen to, the shows they watch on tv. Then comes prison. If they had kids before they went to prison, then the are completing this cyclical disaster.



posted on Aug, 20 2007 @ 07:45 PM
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Originally posted by budski

Originally posted by mnmcandiez
Non- whites are usually more poor and get involved in stealing, gangs, ect. The suburban white has less of a reason to commit stealing ect, it is two different ways of life.


yes, I understand this, but why does this happen, in the days of supposed equality.
Are you saying that racial prejudice is endemic in the US? in the form of equality in the workplace, and education?

Please understand, that as a UK citizen I have no real conception of race relations in the US (except for what I see/read in the news), and I ask in a non inflammatory way for information purposes.



It's really not about race at all imo, its about low income people commit more crime.
Prejudice really has nothing to do with why they commit crime.

[edit on 8/20/2007 by mnmcandiez]



posted on Aug, 20 2007 @ 08:28 PM
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As in all things to do with the western industrialized nations, follow the money. Vast fortunes are being made off of ‘prison industries’, though this is only one aspect of the benefits to be derived from such a police state. In the USA, we call it prison industries, where it exists in China, we call it slave labor.

edit for sp

[edit on 20-8-2007 by resistor]



posted on Aug, 20 2007 @ 09:00 PM
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Source


Those are the lyrics to System of a Down's Prison song, without the one swear word I removed. It tells me some of what I need to know about the failed " war on drugs" and why the outrageous number of people in jail in America.

Also how many other states besides California have the three strike rule? I heard recently that they are rethinking there approach to it. Does any other state carry this law?

oops, forgot to add source

[edit on 20-8-2007 by GAOTU789]

Mod note: making a post very long by adding song lyrics really isn't necessary. The link will suffice. Thanks

[edit on 21-8-2007 by The Vagabond]



posted on Aug, 21 2007 @ 02:23 AM
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Originally posted by ninthaxis
There is a recent case of the FBI setting up 2 men for murder. They were in prison for 30 years. There are also many cases of people who should have gone to prison that didn't. Of course it's harder to prove that the government set people up than it is for letting criminals go. I live in a small city (56,000 people) and there isn't much violence here. Its just alcohol is being cracked down on. It is illegal to be "under the influence" on city streets these days. This town has 3 universities and at one point the highest concentration of bars in one area. Now it is illegal for these students to walk home from the bars if they display signs of slurred speech, red eyes, abnormal walking. These students are put on electronic monitoring for a first offense, second offense is jail. Stupid things like this cause the 2 year old jail to already be over crowded.


Jail only for that and no angry people protesting ?
In my country - Romania bars are open all night, and cops do not care about drunk people, even if they fall on the street, nothing illegal about it.
There is a law - not to drink on the streets - I hate this law, but it's easy to avoid being caught, if you are caught you only get to pay some money, no jail, or electronic monitoring !

Also we have a beach resort that I prefer over any other "luxury" resort. It's called Vama Veche and I think it's the only place in the country where you can walk at 12 in the morning drinking from your beer bottle on the main street and say hello to the cops , they are good guys and don't care. And despite the number of "party people" there is very little violence - proof that violence comes from stupidity not from alcohol




[edit on 21-8-2007 by pai mei]



posted on Aug, 21 2007 @ 05:44 AM
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Looking at the occupancy stats, it shows that US prison are also overcrowded, with an occupancy percentage 107.6%.
This is not as bad as some countries, but any overcrowding is bad - it points to one of two reasons:
1) There are not enough prisons
2) Crime rate has increased above predicted levels (for whatever reason).

It seems clear in this case that more offenses are considered worthy of jail time - i.e. crime rate has increased.

Some more Dept of Justice stats:

# In 2005, over 7 million people were on probation, in jail or prison, or on parole at yearend 2005 -- 3.2% of all U.S. adult residents or 1 in every 32 adults.

# State and Federal prison authorities had in custody 1,446,269 inmates at yearend 2005: 1,259,905 in State custody and 179,220 in Federal custody.

# Local jails held 747,529 persons awaiting trial or serving a sentence at midyear 2005. An additional 71,905 persons under jail supervision were serving their sentence in the community.

source


Between yearend 1995 and yearend 2005, the incarcerated population grew an average 3.3% annually. Population growth during the 12-month period ending December 31, 2005 was lower in State prisons (up 1.3%) than in Federal prison (up 5.1%) and local jails (up 4.7%).

source

Now, if I'm right in saying that federal prison is (in general) for more serious crimes, then this would seem to indicate an increase in crimes viewed as being more serious.

These tables are also quite telling:
1) www.ojp.usdoj.gov...
2)`www.ojp.usdoj.gov...


* At least 95% of all State prisoners will be released from prison at some point; nearly 80% will be released to parole supervision.

* At yearend 2002, 1,440,655 prisoners were under the jurisdiction of State or Federal correctional authorities.

* In 2001, about 592,000 State prison inmates were released to the community after serving time in prison.

* Nearly 33% of State prison releases in 1999 were drug offenders, 25% were violent offenders and 31% were property offenders.

* 670,169 adults were under State parole supervision at yearend 2002.

* By the end of 2000, 16 States had abolished discretionary release from prison by a parole board for all offenders.

* Among State parole discharges in 2000, 41% successfully completed their term of supervision; relatively unchanged since 1990.
source

These figures would suggest that re-offending is a major problem, in which case (according to liberal suggestions) there is little in the way of rehabilitation, and that incarceration is seen only as a punishment, rather than an opportunity to re educate prisoners not to re offend.

I think this shows that just locking people up with no effort to rehabilitate causes more problems than it solves.
One of the reasons for the very high prison levels is the rate at which people re-offend, some of which can be blamed on lack of rehab.
Of course there are still career criminals who will choose no other path, but perhaps the prison levels could be lowered using a programme of rehab and education.



posted on Aug, 21 2007 @ 06:21 AM
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I believe that prisoners in the US are a source of cheap labour.


The United States has seen a recent increase in the number of private firm/correctional facility partnerships that uses prison labor to manufacture goods and provide services.


U.S. Prison Labour At Home And Abroad

To my mind, just this sort of cheap labour could be used to prop the U.S. economy, and combat the cheap labour [sweatshop] Asian market. It at least raises the question, who benefits from having all these people in prison?



posted on Aug, 21 2007 @ 06:40 AM
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I'm trying to find info on revenue produced by prisons vs cost of incarceration, but they seem to be pretty few and far between.

Certainly the rate of re-offending helps no-one, not the victims, not the criminals (no rehab, just punishment) and not society (higher taxes to pay for all those prisoners)


Let's think seriously about prison labor. For the last few years it has persisted as a cloud on the horizon no bigger than a man's hand. It is now gathering over our heads and becoming dark and ominous. Crime is decreasing, but the federal prison population is swelling by leaps and bounds. It's sitting at 130,000 at the moment and expected to climb to 200,000 by 2006. Our leaders in Congress have put 21,000 federal prisoners to work in prison industries, currently making goods for the Federal government. The same thing is happening in the State of Mississippi. State contracts are going to prison industries to help defray the incredible costs of housing, feeding and taking care of thousands upon thousands of inmates sentenced for long terms without parole.

You might say "well and good -- let them contribute to their own upkeep and they won't be such a burden on the taxpayer." That's what the Republican leadership is saying, along with many Democrats. The push is on, under a bill sponsored by Rep. Bill McCollum, a Florida Republican, to allow federal prison industries to compete in the private sector.

source

But there are perhaps more relevant factors as to why there is such a high rate of incarceration:

The Real Cost of Prisons Project believes if the movement to end mass incarceration is to advance it is vital that grassroots community activists gain a deeper understanding of the social, political and economic forces fuel and shape the criminal injustice system. If we are to grasp why more than two million people are incarcerated in the United States we must look at complex set of entwined relationships situated in race, gender, class and place.

Consider these facts: Despite the record growth performance of the U.S. economy in the 1990s, hourly wages, adjusted for inflation, remain lower than they were thirty years ago. The ranks of the working poor have swollen, partially due to the introduction of work requirements for welfare programs. Economic successes, at least those based on mainstream measurements, have not produced substantial benefits for those most in need. Basic health care remains out of reach for a significant portion of the population, household debts have risen to their highest level in recent U.S. history, unequal educational opportunities abound, and poverty remains an entrenched reality in the richest nation on earth.
Many social inequalities, like those perpetuated in the criminal justice system, have direct connections to material inequalities produced by current economic policies. These economic inequalities have reached unprecedented heights. In 1998, the average value of the financial assets of the wealthiest 10% of U.S. households was over 300 times the average holdings of the bottom 25% of all households. The context in which people’s lives unfold – including the evolution of the U.S. criminal justice system and patterns of incarceration – is deeply affected by the type of economy in which we live. A better understanding of the political economy of the U.S. criminal justice system has become increasingly important for the work of activists.

What is political economy? Political economy is an approach to analyzing economic issues in which the political influence, the amount of wealth, and the social position of key players and socio-economic groups is explicitly taken into account. Political economy not only examines total costs and benefits, but explicitly asks the question: who’s benefiting and why?


This shows the relationships (not verified) between different factors and levels of incarceration:
realcostofprisons.org...

And some of the problems facing released prisoners with no practical rehab programme in place:
realcostofprisons.org...

And some further reading:
realcostofprisons.org...
realcostofprisons.org...



posted on Aug, 21 2007 @ 06:46 AM
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Originally posted by budski
Looking at the occupancy stats, it shows that US prison are also overcrowded, with an occupancy percentage 107.6%.
This is not as bad as some countries, but any overcrowding is bad - it points to one of two reasons:
1) There are not enough prisons
2) Crime rate has increased above predicted levels (for whatever reason).

...



Or it could be that misdemeanours are being criminalised to fuel the private prison industry. It's like a domestic no bid Hallliburton contract. The people running the prisons make money, by maxing out the population, in any way possible and the associated industries that use the slave... sorry, prison labour, make money.
The majority of prisons in the U.S. are administered by private companies, no?



posted on Aug, 21 2007 @ 07:10 AM
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Yes, and it's heading that way in the UK, too.

The major problem though (apart from the level of incarceration, for unspecified crimes) seems to be the lack of rehab programmes - there is a high rate of re-offenders.
Then again, offenders are trained to work in prison factories. So they do have some work experience - just not of the right sort, and I think it's undeniable that some are making money off the back of the penal system - money which should be put to better use than lining corporate pockets.

I firmly believe that rehab programmes work (for the most part) - they give an offender a chance to turn his life around. Many employers are on board with this in the UK, including local authorities.

I've been able to find several resources on the effectiveness of "finding god" in a prisoners rehab, but to me this is just skirting the issue.

For those prisoners re-entering society, a set of different life skills are required, including work skills, inter personal skills, qualifications and avoiding the trap of re-offending as a soft option.



posted on Aug, 21 2007 @ 08:42 AM
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I feel the real reason for the prison planet is the three strikes law..Why do we pay the judge after we stripped them of his or her power to sentence . The judges have no power they are a none factor,special circumstances are a none factor.



posted on Aug, 21 2007 @ 10:08 AM
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Originally posted by KLSyesca
I feel the real reason for the prison planet is the three strikes law..Why do we pay the judge after we stripped them of his or her power to sentence . The judges have no power they are a none factor,special circumstances are a none factor.


Good points, but I'd still argue that's only part of the problem
This page also refutes some of the 3 strikes arguments.





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