Thursday, January 12, 2012

An interesting article for what it didn't say...

Hello Friends;

  I read an interesting article on Yahoo today.   Despite the title, it appears that the main thrust of the article was not that the murder rate was falling in such great degrees so much as that the degree to which it impacts the total number of deaths per year has changed.  Specifically, health related issues are increasingly more apt to kill us off than we are ourselves. 
  I went in search of some information, and found the this graph.  It gave me some historical data, appearing to end around 2009 or so.  From what I understand, the problem with statistics on things like murder is that they first need a conviction before they can be determined to be a, that pushes the numbers back a couple years.
  So, if you read the article I linked, you would see that they didn't really indicate that the rate has fallen for murder, but that other things are becoming more dangerous to the human population than other humans.
  I can't help but to wonder what other factors influenced the murder rates.  If we had information regarding drug use/abuse/traffic, if we had information regarding mental health, or even economic indicators.  Whatever the reasons, it would seem quite clear that total crime peaked in the early 90's, and then sharply fell.  This is across the board - except for the issues of rape and murder which seem to run generally even despite a small rise, which I found statistically interesting.  Why?  Well, it would seem that they don't respond to the same influences as most other crimes, and further that they aren't statistically controlled by some of the "tough on crime" policies that MAY be influencing the other crimes. 
  If we were to look at the increase in prison populations, we would perhaps see a correlation between the rise in population and the fall of general crimes.  A presumption would be that indicated a recidivism issue.  And even yet with that information, we see that the murder and rape numbers are relatively unchanged.  I read such an article regarding the increase in prison population here:   It was an addendum to the first article.

  So, why are these issues important?  Well, a couple of reasons, really.  And, there are some foggy ties here, so bear with me.  First, I thought about the increasing age median of the population, indicating that not only are more people closer to the retirement age than the employment age, but that those who are retired are living longer.  This increases the costs associated with care while decreasing the number of people able to contribute tax dollars.  Further, young people are finding it difficult to find work.  Our population has increased, but many of the high paying jobs of the 20th century are now in the developing countries.  The shift towards information technology is great, but the ability of technology to handle much of that itself is deteriorating the job market. 
  A second interesting fact is that the prison population has grown so dramatically.  Policies in my state have changed the way the prisons go about garnering their supplies; where once the prisoners planted crops and cared for live stock, made their furniture and even provided some degree of outside sourcing, the new policies have the near total majority of supplies coming from vendors.  So, as the population increases to astronomical amounts, creating greater and greater drain on the tax dollars, economy, and other resources, the laws that put these men there for increasing amounts of time are actually exacerbating the problem.  Is it effective in lowering recidivistic crime?  Perhaps.  But, perhaps as the economy worsens, as more and more are unable to feed their families and have the nice things they want, perhaps the less scrupulous manners of getting those things will again rise?  Who knows.
  This is all to say, I guess, that we need to look toward our future.  We are wasting greater and greater of our resources for little return and our expected costs are going to increase out of proportion to our sources for revenue.  What can our leaders do to answer this? 


Anonymous said...

Hallo Randy
I do not think that our politicians and powerful economy has the future in mind.
They preserve the present. They think about maintaining power and power generation. They think of their wallets.
They displace the future - will not see them.
They make no REAL THOUGHTS about nuclear waste disposal, alternative - renewable energy, feeding the world population, real peace in the world.
It's all about money.
We say: Hauptsache die Kohlen stimmen!

Anonymous said...

Hey Randy
Interesting letter... I remember some years ago a tv program talking about prisons and the problem with over crowding... there was a sheriff from some southern state that was ordered to release some of his prisoners early because of over crowding and because of limited money to support his jails... his answer was to erect tents in the exercise yard, to stop the over crowding of the cells... he stopped all activity including tv, stopped all smoking, started serving a bowl of cereal in the mornings, cold sandwich for lunch, simple hot meal for dinner(no desert)... the prisoners started complaining.. the sheriff said if you don't like it don't come back.... the show also showed prisons that had indoor sports, all day long tv, individual rooms with oak beds and chests of drawers... basically a really nice place and lot nicer than many of the prisoners had when they were out on their own... hmmmmmmm.... in that case there is now incentive for any man in that prison to do anything but be in prison.... and all of this comes out of our tax money....

randy said...

Hi Nikki;
I think you are right... the politicians seem quite happy with the "now", no matter the cost. The sad thing is, these are the people supposed to be Leading. If so, they are leading us into a pit.


randy said...

Hello Anon;
It is my understanding that jails and prisons can be a very dangerous place. And, overcrowding increases the chance for violence to occur.
Further, while man can adapt to nearly anything, we need certain stimuli in order to grow. I must say that anyone who would choose to go to jail or prison just to have the benefits of tv and inside sports has a great deal of other issues.
While I have a certain agreement that people should not return to jail/prison, I also have to believe that they didn't all want to be there. The simple fact is that those places are filled with folks who either wouldn't or couldn't follow the laws of our country. The focus, in my mind, should be to take someone like that, and turn them into someone who not only can follow the laws but wants to.

Thank you for writing.


Scottie said...

Hello Randy. A couple quick ideas. First I like your comment reply to Anon. Your on to something when you state that we should have as a goal rehabilitation and incarceration should be only until the rehabilitation is completed. Why stock pile people.

Which leads me to my second point. Sentences that don't fit the severity of the crime. A small amount of personal drug is being punished with mandatory 10 and 20 year sentences.

A male teacher who has sex with a 17 year old male student gets thirty years in prison and a female teacher who has sex with a 16 year old student gets 15 years, suspended sentence. Same crime, one served at home, one we pay for for 30 years and a life long of restitution / retribution.

Not saying shouldn't have prisons, I am saying lets do it smarter, not longer. We also have to have prison be humane. Sorry but we have laws on how we have to treat animals in zoo's so they are not abused and I will not accept the treatment of even those who violated social laws as subhuman.

So will say they deserve the treatment they get. Wrong..Becoming them, treating others like they did, doesn't make you superior or better, it makes you just as bad. Treating the worse among civilly, with as much humanity as possible will also help with rehabilitation. Sadly there will be those who can't be rehabilitated and will require a life long commitment to safe guard the public, just as we have people with such mental illness as to require life long institutional help. But dang it, we can be human in doing it, in giving treatment. I wont be that which I decry in others.

Sorry but lately I am angry over the "lets treat others shitty because we can" attitude I am seeing around me. Politician's who say anything bad they can think of about their competitor even when it is known not to be true, same for those who hate one group or another. I am tired of people hating and feeling justified in mistreating others because they are different or belong to a different group or tribe. This wont stop util we say enough, I wont tolerate this type of thing.

Hugs and loves, Scottie

randy said...

Amen, Scottie;
Thanks for speaking out.

I do empathize a bit with people who are tired of seeing tax dollars be wasted. But, I really like your statement re: prisons - incarceration should be done smarter not longer or harder.


Scottie said...

hello Randy. I know this topic has passed but I wanted to comment on the idea of "wasted" dollars in the justice system. If the system works as it is suppose to under the best of our ability, then prison is not a waste. I do believe in humane incarceration. Sorry but if you believe giving someone a bed , clothes, proper environment, or even the mental stimulation needed to keep from becoming a danger to ones self or others, then you don't understand that these people are their against their will and have no choices. That would be the real punishment in my view. No choice in things, no ability to control your own body or destiny, everyone seeming to be above you in rights.

If you want to treat prisoners like sewage, then they will become such and our prisons will be nothing more then torture houses, places to harm, punish, demean, debase, and where we put people to rot.

We are not like that. I am a human. I am also a believer in the view that how I treat the least among us, is how I my self would be treated. Our system is not infallible, they make mistakes, go over board, and yes, corruption and misconduct lead to innocent people being imprisoned.

I also want each prison, each level of crime to be treated similarly. If you have wealth or position , you should go to the same prison as a poor person. You should not get a separate prison with better amenities or comforts.

So if we believe prisons are keeping us safe, if we champion "no tolerance" laws and longer sentences, we can't also think they are a waste of money.

OK I will get off my soap box now. Hugs

randy said...

Hi Scottie;
Well, in a sense, the people in prison did choose that. I'm sure, though, they'd like that choice to have over again.
but, you are absolutely right - people become what they are made, to a certain degree. We see that in the very best of people coming from the military, and how much more would we see it in men and women, and kids (dammit), in a prison setting.
Again, we need to think long term. As individuals, we often make decisions not on what will happen now, but in the future -- I save for my retirement, some 30 years down the line. And yet, there are a whole number of things I'd like to use that money to buy for the 'now'. Well, if we use the same logic with prisons, the investment we make in a person's life will show dividends, we hope, in a future where that person is back in society, amongst our loved ones. Why would we want to do anything other than seek to accomplish a great outcome?
Thank you for coming back to this subject....and none are ever "past" in my book.