Saturday, March 31, 2012

Incarceration and Debt

Hello friends;
  I can't imbed the video.  Please click on the link and watch it on CNN.

March 30th, 2012

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

Something caught my eye the other day: Pat Robertson, the high priest of the religious right, had some startling things to say about drugs.
"I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol," Mr. Robertson said in a recent interview. "I've never used marijuana and I don't intend to, but it's just one of those things that I think. This war on drugs just hasn't succeeded."
The reason Robertson is for legalizing marijuana is that it has created a prison problem in America that is well beyond what most Americans imagine.
"It's completely out of control," Mr. Robertson said. "Prisons are being overcrowded with juvenile offenders having to do with drugs. And the penalties - the maximums - some of them could get 10 years for possession of a joint of marijuana. It makes no sense at all."
He’s right. Here are the numbers: The total number of Americans under correctional supervision (prison, parole, etc.) is 7.1 million, more than the entire state of Massachusetts. Adam Gopnik writes in the New Yorker, "Over all, there are now more people under 'correctional supervision' in America...than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height."
No other country comes even close to our rates of incarceration. We have 760 prisoners per 100,000 people. Most European countries have one seventh that number (per capita, so it's adjusted for population). Even those on the high end of the global spectrum - Brazil and Poland - have only a quarter the number we do.
If you say this is some kind of enduring aspect of America's "Wild West" culture, you would be wrong. In 1980, our rates of incarceration were a quarter what they are now. What changed was the war on drugs and the mindless proliferation of laws that created criminal penalties for anything and everything. If you don’t believe me, listen to Pat Roberston again. Here's a quote:
"We here in America make up 5% of the world's population, but we make up 25% of jailed prisoners....We have now over 3,000 - the number must be might higher than that - but over 3,000 federal crimes, and every time the liberals pass a bill - I don't care what it involves - they stick criminal sanctions on it. They don't feel there is any way people are going to keep a law unless they can put them in jail.... So we have the jails filled with people who are white collar criminals.
In the past two decades, the money that states spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education. In 2011, California spent $9.6 billion on prisons, versus $5.7 billion on higher education. Since 1980, California has built one college campus; it's built 21 prisons. The state spends $8,667 per student per year. It spends about $50,000 per inmate per year.
Why is this happening? Prisons are a big business. Most are privately run. They have powerful lobbyists and they have bought most state politicians. Meanwhile, we are bankrupting out states and creating a vast underclass of prisoners who will never be equipped for productive lives.

I never thought I'd say this, but God bless you, Pat Robertson

Hi Friends;

Gees!   I find myself in the same boat here.... I never would have thought I'd see Pat Robertson as a voice of reason and logic.  Go figure.
  One of the odd things I realized as I was reading this and thinking on what I wanted to say about it.... we in America, where "liberty" seems such a catch word, have made a practice and knee-jerk jovial reaction that includes the very elimination of said liberty.  Is crime acceptable?  Of course not.  I don't advocate it, but I also don't advocate the ruination of a life for it.  You've all heard my take on the so called "juvenile justice system".   Drug offenses, the big evil of the 80's and 90's, filled a lot of cells for a very long sentence.  And, if you are convicted of a sex offense, once you have done your time the state continues to punish you - in some cases for life.  What have we become?



Scottie said...

Hello Randy...just one thing I noticed...Pat blames the liberals and every time they make a law..but he forgets the Conservatives run on the slogans of tough on crime, zero tolerance, and personal responsibly.

So while he makes a lot of sense in the majority of his argument, he loses points for trying to make it a partisan attach politically.

Hugs and loves. Scottie

randy said...

Hi Scottie;
I actually noticed that too. I just hated to "out" him as being incorigible.
In Michigan, we all thought that Engler had a cousin or brother in law who owned a fence company... that the sign on the highway when entering the state should have read "Welcome to Michigan. You have the right to remain silent...". The prison population ballooned under Engler and only leveled and began to settle under his democratic successor Granholm. We now have a republican gov. again....gulp.