02 March 2008

More than 1 in 100 Americans is now in Prison

(Image from BBC)

The Orwellian comment of the week award goes to Paul Casses, a law professor gifting us with his insight from the University of Utah:

“It’s terrible we have to incarcerate so many so the rest of us can live safely,” he said. “But that’s the price of living in the most free society in the world.”

What? To have the most free society in the world, we must imprison more of our people than any other society in the world? Sir, you are an authoritarian hack.

We now have more than1 in 100 Americans is in jail. There are approximately 2.3 million Americans currently serving time. That is more than ANY other country in the world, including China which has a paltry 1.5 million of it's 1.3 billion people behind bars. Per capita, our incarceration rates are beyond staggering. The Chinese have over a billion more people than we do, yet a million fewer people in prison.

You can the report from the Pew Center on the States here.


Ada said...

That's big brother for you "protecting us from our own selves" what a joke.

Damien Franco said...

Those are pretty staggering numbers.

Erik said...

Yeah guys, absolutely staggering. Big brother's hand of protection becomes even more offensive when you begin looking at the percentages by race. If you really want to get a chill, check out our stats for death sentences (children and adults)& executions.

hotwheelqt said...

Okay, so I have a couple questions....
What do you feel is it about our society that has led all of these individuals to commit the crimes that they are imprisioned for AND what would you propose we do with those people instead of imprisioning them?????

Erik said...

Great questions Hotwheel! Thanks.

I think education, or the lack thereof, is a primary causal factor in crime rates.

A great number (in the realm of 50%) of all inmates are non-violent drug offenders.

Then there is the three strikes and you're out rule that imposes mandatory life sentences for people with substance issues.

I suppose you might say that the importation of cocaine for Iran-Contra could be considered a causal factor, as well.

I expect that there will be more and more going to prison for theft, fraud and the like as the economy continues to dive.

Some individuals commit crimes out of need, some out of ignorance, some out of addiction, some for personal gain and some because they were just born criminals.

I propose we educate, rehabilitate and reintegrate our fellow citizens.

I would love to hear your responses the the questions you posed to me.

hotwheelqt said...

Okay, so education is the solution. Agreed. I completely agree with teaching trades in prison. I minored in CJ in college and strongly feel that the main reason so many of these people are in prison is that we failed them when we had them in school.
And on this very subject.....our school district this VERY Friday night is having an emergency school board meeting to determine how to cut 42% of the district budget due to funding reductions from the Great State of California. The current proposal is to cut all Ag, Homemaking and Music Programs. Yes, they are going to get rid of BAND and CHOIR. I'm not saying I learned everything I needed to know about life from Marching Band--but pretty close--especially in College.
So the only chance some of these kids have to learn a "trade" of sorts --thru homemaking or Ag programs is now being cut completely out of the school. (most of your kids in band here are the richer kids)
I don't have a solution for any of this. I just seem to remember a few weeks ago that I voted for some 8 million dollar thing that got us money from the Indian Casinos. Where the heck is THAT money?
If we cut out all the elective programs, it's going to ensure more and more kids drop out of school before we've had the chance to "get" to them.

Erik said...

My stomach sank when I read your comment. The removal of electives from school programs is a frightening proposal on many fronts. It has been proven, repeatedly, that music increases mathematical understanding.

Art (music, dance, painting, photography, poetry, etc)is a form of expression that often replaces violence. Remove art, install another metal detector and security guard to "raise" our children.

Removing the arts from schools is often seen in societies as they become more fascist. More money to police and prisons, less money to schools. (Kinda supports what we were saying, hungh?)

I hope that parents were successful in the battle with the district.
Please let me know what happened. You can e-mail me through my profile or request that I not post the comment if you don't wish everyone to read.