Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Overcrowded Prisons

There's been a lot in the news lately about the terrible overcrowding in American prisons. This op-ed report in the Miami Herald places the blame on immigration laws.
Latinos now make up 40 percent of the estimated 200,000 prisoners in federal penitentiaries, triple their share of the total U.S. adult population and disproportionate to their representation in state and local jails (19 percent and 16 percent, respectively). Nearly half of the Latino population in federal prisons are immigrants, with 81 percent sentenced for entering or residing in the nation without authorization.

It seems to me that we're incarcerating tens of thousands of immigrants who don't pose a threat to the community. These people shouldn't be behind bars at all.

On the Heavy Sounds and the Abstract Truth blog the blame is placed squarely on the War on Terror.
The “war on terror” is endlessly peddled by the American political establishment as a crusade for freedom and liberty around the world. Yet, as the latest prison figures again demonstrate, far from representing freedom, justice and democracy, the United States is notorious for its propensity to jail its own population.

He quotes some impressive Census Bureau data and concludes with the irrefutable: "No other country in the world comes close to these numbers."

In addition to the increases due to immigration and terror laws, we mustn't forget the "war on drugs." We've often talked about the futility of locking up marijuana users like they do in Texas and Louisiana. Some people go even further and believe more drugs than just pot should be legalized. On the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition site they have some ideas about that.

Recently, according to the BBC, in the UK they've made an attempt to address their problem.
The Ministry of Justice said 2,795 criminals in England and Wales were freed up to 18 days before the half-way point of their sentence in December.

An MoJ spokesman said the government was working "extremely hard" to create extra prison capacity.

So far 47,515 inmates have been let out early under the End of Custody Licence programme.

They include nearly 10,000 violent offenders and more than 4,200 burglars.

The article goes on to explain how many of these people have violated the terms of their release and how many others have become fugitives again. Overall, it didn't sound like an example of success.

On the Preaching to the Choir site, S. provides a concise and chilling analysis taken from the MSNBC report.
1 of every 31 US adults is incarcerated. Georgia has the highest incarceration rate, at 1 in every 13 adults. (New Hampshire has the lowest, at 1 in 88.)

1 in every 11 black adults is under some form of correctional supervision. cite

How's that for a bleak picture? What's to be done about this? The British don't seem to know. What would you do? I've already outlined my three-point plan here.

What's your opinion?


  1. Already talked about this before, Mike.

    Your mind is closed, and America is not in your best interest.

    I have better things to do with my time.

  2. Mike,

    I have a better idea. Let's release all the non-violent, victimless criminal, that will make room.

    Since the anti-firearm crowd cares for safety sooooo much, let's put them into the spaces opened up by releasing the non-violent.

    The gun banners will be safe, the prisons will still have work and the rest of us can exercise our rights in peace.

    It would be entirely voluntary of course....a good compromise to ensure the safety of those unwilling to carry firearms. Surely, you don't mind giving up a few rights in order to be safer, right?

  3. How many in those 'overcrowded prisons' are there for having a bag of pot in their car or a few dozen plants at home?

    Where the UK and various US jurisdictions make their mistake is this:

    "They include nearly 10,000 violent offenders and more than 4,200 burglars."

  4. "They include nearly 10,000 violent offenders and more than 4,200 burglars."

    And the UK wonders why they've got a crime problem. Hmmm, mass disarmament of the citizens + letting violent criminals go free.

    If we'd just release the non-violent drug offenders and keep the violent folks locked up we'd have fewer issues.

  5. Send the illegals home to their native land.

    Secure the borders with our military that Barack is bringing home.

    Start an ad campaign for good character, honesty, integrity, fidelity, marriage, staying married, sobriety, Just Saying No to mood altering chemicals, parenting responsibly, chastity before marriage and encouraging religious institutions (church involvement as a support for clean living.) Get sponsors to provide funding for prime-time wholesome TV edu-tainment that has to do with good character.

    AND MAKE THE CONNECTION--THAT right living and staying together in marriage helps you economically. It's true. And staying married does reduce carbon footprint. Getting married and having children and doing it with Golden Rule principles

    I've seen so many bratty kids on tv shows lately --reality segments --kids who boss their parents around. No wonder we have problems in our schools and with hyperactivity.

    Stop the daytime and prime-time near-pornographic TV with nudity and extra-marital sex (most sex and implied sex are extra-marital in the story lines and we don't need any of this explicitness or illicit sex during hours when kids can watch --not ever, really.)

    Quit telling the weak-minded exactly how to do horrendous crimes and how to get away with them on tv. I had to turn away from Lifetime movie network recently for its stripping with near nudity in daytime program. And notice how many story lines feature single moms meeting suitable and handsome bachelors. When does THAT ever happen in real life!!? Rarely. Just as rare as the scenario in "pretty Woman" --but how we love fantasies --but how many of those encourage our young men to pursue hookers to assuage their loneliness and other -nesses.

    We should do all we can to promote staying married for life --as in that movie "Fireproof."

    Moral reform and good parenting, better TV and immigration control would do a great deal for economy and to combat crime.

  6. Barb -

    Whoa there's a lot of shit in there that is none of the governments business. it's not the job of government to instill "morals."

    And hell, I could only imagine how bad they'd fuck it up if it WAS their job.

    Seriously Barb - You are complaining about TV not reflecting reality? It's entertainment, it's not supposed to be realistic.

    As for the sex. People like sex, sex sells, therefore we see sexual messages on TV. I call that good marketing. Worried about kids watching? That's your responsibility.

    I could go on......

  7. I don't know, Mike W. Barb has some good ideas, which I don't think she said should be implemented by the government necessarily. It sounds to me like education is the answer, long range.

    What about that statistic in Georgia, 1 in 13 adults? That's a State in which they have a lot of guns and easy gun laws. Any connection?

  8. "It sounds to me like education is the answer, long range."

    Always is Mike, but who's doing the educating? Do we really want the public school system (the State) teaching morals? I'm not downplaying the importance of reality, I just think that it's solely the responsibility of parents & family.

    "What about that statistic in Georgia, 1 in 13 adults? That's a State in which they have a lot of guns and easy gun laws. Any connection?"

    Why would the number of guns and lack of gun laws be a reason for high incarceration rates? Unless of course you believe that guns put a vulcan mind meld on people, forcing them to commit crimes.

  9. No, there's no Vulcan Mind Meld from the presence of the evil guns, but something seems to be wrong. In Geogria, you've got easy gun laws, you've got easy access to guns. That means that every two-bit stick up man can get a gun easily, just like every penny-ante drug dealer and every first-time criminal. Maybe they're the ones contributing to that dubious statistic of 1 in 13.

    Furthermore, in a society where many people are presumed to be armed, I've been repeatedly told, there's less crime because the would-be criminals know better. That doesn't seem to be working down in Georgia. And I seriously doubt it works anywhere.

  10. Mike,

    Why don't you prove your point and show some evidence instead of giving us your continual commenting/posting diarrhea?

    Maybe because you would be forced to recognize there are more contributing factors then availability of firearms?

    How about unemployment rates, education? How about the subjects nobody wants to cover in discussing crime, socio-economic conditions and race?

    That means that every two-bit stick up man can get a gun easily, just like every penny-ante drug dealer and every first-time criminal.

    Strict gun control law doesn't seem to stop every two bit stick up man in Chicago from getting firearms now does it?

    Strict gun control law doesn't seem to stop every penny-ante drug dealer in New York City or Boston Or Philly Or Detroit or Los Angeles from getting firearms now does it?

    Does strict gun control law seem to stop every penny ante drug dealer in MEXICO from getting firearms???

    Back up your ideas with some reality or admit you don't know what the devil you are talking about...if you are honest enough to do that.

    Meanwhile, strict gun control laws are disarming the law abiding. Allowing the hoodlums to have the advantage....how many people are being raped, assaulted and murdered because you continue to advocate for those strict laws?

  11. "In Geogria, you've got easy gun laws, you've got easy access to guns."

    Yup, and in DC you've got the most strict gun laws in the country. It's impossible to buy a gun legally and it's illegal to carry one, yet you still have an insanely high violent crime rate.

    In Arizona you have very lax gun laws, the violent crime rate is 482.7

    In DC you have what amounts to an outright ban on ownership of guns (until recently DC had no gun shops) and an outright ban on carrying guns.

    The crime rate in DC in 2007 was 1414.3 per 100,000 people.

    California, which the Brady Campaign says has the best gun control laws in the country. Violent crime rate of 522.6

    Could it be Mike, that avaliablity of guns has no discernible imapct on violent crime rates?

    Hell, if gun control = reduced number of guns and less guns = less crime, then how could DC and CA have HIGHER violent crime rates than AZ?

  12. Sorry Mike, forgot the link