District Attorneys Gone Prison-Happy
By Philippe Gastonne - September 30, 2015

Criminal justice reform is a contentious political issue, but there's one point on which pretty much everyone agrees: America's prison population is way too high. It's possible that a decline has already begun, with the number of state and federal inmates dropping for three years straight starting in 2010, from an all-time high of 1.62 million in 2009 to about 1.57 million in 2012. But change has been slow: Even if the downward trend continues, which is far from guaranteed, it could take almost 90 years for the country's prison population to get down to where it was in 1980 unless the rate of decline speeds up significantly.

What can be done to make the population drop faster? Many reformers, operating under the assumption that mass incarceration is first and foremost the result of the war on drugs, have focused on making drug laws less punitive and getting rid of draconian sentencing laws that require judges to impose impossibly harsh punishments on people who have committed relatively minor crimes. But according to John Pfaff, a professor at Fordham Law School, neither of those efforts will make a significant dent in the problem, because they are based on a false understanding of why the prison boom happened in the first place.* Having analyzed statistics on who goes to prison, why, and for how long, Pfaff has emerged with a new and provocative account of how the problem of mass incarceration came to be. – Slate, Feb. 6, 2015

U.S. prisons are stuffed to the rafters, often with non-violent offenders. By all kinds of measures, we incarcerate far more people than most of the world. Why?

The standard assumption blames aggressive drug law enforcement and mandatory sentencing laws. New research from Fordham Law School suggests a different answer. The War on Drugs is a big factor, but not the only factor.

The study by Prof. John Pfaff says 90% of prisoners are in state prisons, and only 17% of those are there primarily for drug charges. About two-thirds of prisoners are behind bars for property or violent crimes.

It is quite likely many of the violent crimes were drug-driven – gangs fighting turf wars, etc. – but any way you look at the data, the War on Drugs doesn't explain why so many people are in prison. Pfaff's data also shows the vast majority of prisoners stay less than three years, indicating that the long mandatory sentences are not the main cause, either.

Pfaff points to a very interesting statistical change. Between 1994 and 2008, the odds that a district attorney would file felony charges against a given arrestee doubled, going from 1 in 3 to 2 in 3. Prosecutors have become far more aggressive in filing more serious charges than they did in the past. The result is more people go to prison for offenses that would once have earned probation or short jail stays.

What made local prosecutors get more aggressive? Here we can only speculate. A "tough on crime" attitude grew in the 1980s. Recall the infamous "Willie Horton" ads the George H.W. Bush campaign ran against Michael Dukakis in 1988. Locally elected prosecutors may have discerned that a tougher approach improved their re-election odds.

Another factor could be the rise of contractor operated, profit-seeking prisons. The companies in that niche have a financial incentive to want as many people sentenced to prison as possible. They could help the most aggressive prosecutors with campaign contributions or other support.

Why is all this important? Many libertarian-minded citizens welcome marijuana decriminalization in part because they think it will reduce the prison population. Pfaff's research suggests this is not true. If we end the War on Drugs but don't address the greater problems, prosecutors will find other reasons to imprison just as many people.

As long as government can regulate behavior, it will regulate behavior. Prevent it from regulating one type and it will create another. That is how government works.

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  • Bruce C.

    It seems to me the issue is whether or not many crimes deserve prison time. If they do then the prison population is just a proxy for crimes committed. It seems to me that other countries have fewer in prison because they don’t have as much crime, or that there isn’t as much law enforcement so fewer get arrested. Personally, I’ve never met any one who has gone to prison who didn’t think they deserved it, so I don’t really understand the issue. A relative of mine almost went to prison save for expensive legal defense. So far he’s learned to stop doing stupid shit that everybody knows would get them in trouble. It doesn’t seem that complicated.

    • lulu

      Yes, i have worked in both federal and provincial corrections. Most inmates’ crimes were drug related. Because the lifestyle of an addict is so marginalized and they have been victimized by a system which treats health issues as criminal, there is an acceptance by the individual of the punishment as just. To a degre, the criminal needs the incarceration for survival since he or she is rejected by Society and can not easily function on the outside. So yes, is prison time the answer? No.

      • Bruce C.

        Okay, but I’m talking about drug “running” (being involved in the drug trade), or rejecting all advice from all corners that such-and-such girl friend is “bad news” until he gets entrapped and accused of domestic violence when he finally tries to break up, or getting arrested for “reckless driving” because he’s under probation, or fighting in a bar and seriously hurting someone, etc. I’m not describing just one person but all of those are real examples from people I know, and they were not first time “offenses.” Illegal drug usage was not involved in any of those cases (alcohol maybe, but that’s legal.)

        As I’ve said before, it’s not easy to go to jail. You have to repeatedly exercise bad judgement, which used to be called common sense.

  • At the core of ‘the state’ is the coercive threat and use of violent force. If ‘the state’ did not reserve for itself the use of force it would fail. In general people may appear to willingly comply with the requirements of the state but that is either because:

    * they would act in that way regardless, (they would generally not want to transgress against other people’s property), or
    * they would act in a different way to the edicts of ‘the state’ but do not because of the prospective repercussions, or
    * they believe it is moral to comply with the edicts of ‘the state’.

    ‘The state’ is central to, sets the tone of, modern human society in great part. Because people individually agree that employing the use of force is only moral in defence of self and property and agree that groups of people have no more right to employ force than they do individually, there is an unanswered dichotomy, a dissonance, between the circumstances when an individual can morally use force and when ‘the state’ makes use of it. There is no moral justification for ‘the state’ to use force outside of those same perimeters of an individual’s moral legitimacy.

    When ‘the state’ employs morally illegitimate violent force it attempts to set itself apart from human morality and instead endows itself with a false morality to break this code. Without violent force at its disposal ‘the state’ ends. ‘The state’ is nothing without the use of violent force. ‘The state’ is nothing but violent force. ‘The state’ is violence.

    This violence, which is ‘the state’, is the cause of enormous harm that runs through human society as a virus. ‘The state’ breaks the moral code that is the foundation upon which a harmonious human society should be founded. The overall effect of this violence at the core of ‘the state’ is that the infection spreads through human society and especially manifests in weak points within the social order.

    So how would a stateless society deal with crime? In a fully functional stateless human society crime would be vastly reduced as a result of having taken the use of faux legitimated violence out of the core of society. There would still be crime one can suppose, human nature remains and part of that may be for some to still act immorally, against others and their property, if they can get away with it. So assuming there would remain some crime in a stateless society it would need to be dealt with or the immoral people would simply be unconstrained and encouraged.

    The lesson to be understood when accepting the utility of a stateless human society is that: answers to every supposed problem are possible to find and then develop. All the people working toward finding resolutions to the needs of society will develop a plethora of solutions and the best of those will rapidly be widely employed. Further, attempting to predict what these solutions will be is as ridiculous, and likely as inaccurate, as it would have been attempting to describe how society and the economy would appear and function after the abolition of slavery. Slavery was not ceased because a ‘slavery-free’ future was planed and understood in detail but because the immorality of slavery demanded it was made to end. So it must be demanded that ‘the violent state’ is made to end too.

    I do have many ideas of cause as to how free-market policing and justice would take place in a system offering a level of service and accessibility clearly unobtainable when these functions of human society are usurped and monopolised by ‘the state’. I too have ideas for what would replace ‘the state’ operated penal system. The focus of that would greatly depend on what the free-market demanded and what the free-market judicial system could legitimately find legally sound and therefore moral.

    I suppose when people cannot be made, by the threat of violent force, to pay to incarcerate offenders there will be a very different criteria emerge as to what is realistically desirable, such as cost-effective achievable goals for reform, deeper psychoanalytical understanding, life-retraining and so on. People who had to be removed from society because of the danger they presented would need to also be accommodated within a system, but clearly; being faced with an entire population entitled to carry whatsoever means of protection they felt prudent the population of hardened criminals would soon reduce to manageable numbers too.

    • RED

      “but clearly; an entire population all entitled to carry whatsoever means of protection they felt prudent would soon reduce the population of hardened criminals to manageable numbers too.”

      In reading your gentle approach and language to this topic, I thought this was where you were headed.
      And……I am in full agreement!

      A “healthy” open free society can exercise its own self correcting “peer pressure” constraints against hardened criminals in an efficient and cost effective way.

      • Being nice doesn’t necessarily mean you’re weak. You can be nice and be strong at the same time. says Virginian politician Shelley Moore Capito (not that I like quoting politicians too much but I do like quoting Virginians many who are quintessentially nice and tough all at the same time).

        • RED

          I often have occasion to remind certain individuals that it can be a serious error to mistake “Niceness” for “Weakness”.

    • scottscobig

      There’s a great novel, “Withur We,” that deals with private security and law and justice and such. Great science fiction dystopia with a great story. Based on Murray Rothbard’s writings.

    • Bruce C.

      How do you explain why other countries/societies incarcerate fewer?

      • My presumption is that it is a vicious circle: state violence engenders social violence, social violence engenders state violence. It is rather like the ‘if I fart I laugh and if I laugh I fart’ syndrome. Its going to end in a messy shart!

        • Bruce C.

          And by “state violence” do you mean the whole gamut from wars to police presence/activity? If so, then why do you think other “states”/countries haven’t become more aggressive if that is their inherent tendency?

          • I do not think state aggression is the natural default of nations. Russia and China, for example, have historically been very reluctant to engage in military conflict. For them it is all about defence. The US is in the grip of a money/power oligarchy who are using the national economy and the tax-base to fund a military machine to geopolitically dominate the world to comply with an occidental rule, designed to be their governance. Maybe the schooling, police, law, prison complex is all about brutalising the population to produce the violent tendencies necessary for staffing an aggressive warfare nation.

          • Bruce C.

            So then a “state” per se is not necessarily/inherently/inexorably expansive, intrusive, and violent but it can be a vehicle or a framework or a means of, but requiring a usurpation by an “outside” influence with that agenda?

          • Not so. To one extent or another – the USA being a badly concealed example – ‘the state’ is always intrusive and violent and will always be usurped to benefit agendas outside of the populations needs and interests. Indeed this is the true function of ‘the state’.

          • Bruce C.

            Then why did you say above “I do not think state aggression is the natural default of nations.”? You seem to be saying that “the money/power” is what causes state growth and aggression, using GB and then/now the US as examples. That would be a plausible explanation for why most “states” aren’t aggressive (including Russia and China.)

          • State aggression, waging aggressive war, is conducted on the behalf of the state’s ruling oligarchy. Indeed the state itself is operated for the benefit of the oligarchy too with any apparent benefits for the population being no more than is necessary to keep them productive and passive. A state is only caused to attack another state when it is evident their asset can be usurped or the war economy is desirable to the oligarchy. The money/power is my shorthand for the specific banking oligarchy benefiting from the US Federal Reserve and the international central banking system and that uses whatsoever can be brought to its disposable in its aim to consolidate, expand and monopolise its global holdings. Its method of operation is influence – a very light hand on the tiller. Its method of income generation is debt interest paid via state gathered taxation and inflation.

          • Bruce C.

            I’m not sure you’re understanding the distinction I’m trying to question. You continue to conflate the concept of the state with oligarchs who usurp it. They’re not the same thing but perhaps you’re saying they ARE for all practical purposes because no (“passive”) state can exist for long before it is usurped by oligarchs.

            In particular, I want to understand how and why the US government has run amok. I think the US Constitution is a great document but it hasn’t been followed (as opposed to it has and hasn’t worked.) Ironically, maybe the dark side of a republic is an oligarchy, and that’s what’s happened. How else could three central banks be chartered, for example?

          • That is right, I think: no matter how idealised a vision of ‘the state’ is incanted it will not survive for more than a scintilla before its power is usurped in some way and then, worse, that process is continuously deepening. This idealise vision, if it exists at all, may not be incanted by oligarchs but more often, in practice, it is or yet most often is just the new version of ‘the state’ is rooted, some way, on its predecessor.

            The US Constitution is not my focus because, whilst it is perhaps the best attempt so far, it is still only the best attempt at a bad idea. It is fatality flawed and hence I have never pinned any great hope on the concept’s wider application – even if returning precisely to its original provisions. It is a mandate for usurpation and it fails to preserve the individual’s sovereign right to property; property in self and in possession.

            The US government has ‘run amok’ because no contract between a land’s population and a belief in an idea we call ‘the state’ can contain provision against, hold-back, the propensity for that bequest of individual sovereignty to be stolen.

            The ‘dark-side’ is that in seeing the asset of America was going to be impractical to continue to hold with Imperial power a means was put into place where the asset was ceded instead to an independent debtor ‘state’ of which control could be captured. This does not mean the the ‘British’ control the United States but rather it means that the money/power multi-generational financial oligarchies that greatly controlled Britain and the British Empire also now greatly control America (and prospectively Israel). This is a fluid and transnational oligarchy.

            The American people do not de-facto own their land, the land belongs to the American government and the people’s individual titles to land are only those granted to them by the government under the government’s various stipulations (taxation, laws, etc) and can therefore be readily taken away by government too. Title to land is only that granted by government and the title granted to the US government is only that granted by the British Crown under the stipulations of the Paris treaty.

          • Bill Ross

            …and economic collapse to reduce economic opportunities to: join the warfare state, or starve

            they also think in terms of enemies foreign and domestic.

          • I think when the USA has been bled dry, as least as dry as GB and the British Empire were after WWII, the money/power will move-on, as much as they moved-on from GB. Will it be China as their next ‘cash-cow’ – I don’t think so. I suspect a it will be a global monetary collapse followed by a world currency. This initially will be based on the Special Drawing Ricghts (SDR) system with all participating currencies progressively forced to peg their exchange rates to it (just as the European currencies did with the EURO running in conjunction with the various EU national currencies pegged to it for a few years). When the participating forex-rates settle (without too much support) and supposedly the economies of the participating nations are in ‘harmony’, that is after a few years, then they will give-up on all the participating national currencies in one big-bang. So the ‘economic collapse’ will be to force the nations into the system to win bail-out funding. Presently it looks to me like there is a differential between the PTB of the USD and the power that would like to be behind this global currency. That is what was behind the fall from grace of Dominique Strauss-Kahn – he apparently tried to ‘jump the gun’ and called for the Fed and the gold at Fort Knox to be audited and was pushing the SDR global global reserve currency idea – he is lucky he did not end-up feeding the fishes, dead in the woods. It will not happen until the money/power is good and ready, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) at the helm and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) (along with the UN and NATO) clearly put back into their place as no more than a facilitator, a conduit, of loans. Nothing will happen till the power-play between the international bankers (the money/power) and the national political wonks appointed to these international bodies fight it out as to who is the real boss. Global economic collapse will put that matter to rest. It is going to be interesting (especially when we see what strategic part gold could play – that is another level altogether).

  • Bill Ross

    About two-thirds of prisoners are behind bars for property or violent crimes.

    Well, how about putting the choosers of the state and on the bench in prison for identical, but far more devastating crimes. The Nurenburg solution for the really psychopathic ones.

    problem solved.

  • straight shooter

    Let’s not forget that in the US, the Incarceration Management Business is a huge, PRIVATE industry hopelessly enmeshed with, and dependent on, government for its revenue. In that sense its revolving-door relationship with the State is no different from that of Big Pharma or the defense industry, to name just two. This also works seamlessly with the phony war on drugs.

    Sadly, unless it’s all somehow completely reset, we can’t realistically expect to see any reduction in the prison population any more than we can expect troop withdrawal from…(fill in your favorite Third-World nation) or fewer prescription drugs on the market. DAs with individual agendas may come and go, but in the aggregate are of little consequence, and are ultimately just pawns in a much larger game.

    • john cummins

      Yes, many of us “conservatives” were all for the private corporate prisons, we were wrong, obviously.

  • Praetor

    I thinking, we can all agree that there are people who should be behind bars The issue maybe more in line with whom are we putting behind bars. Why do people become criminals, if 75% are property and violent, this would indicate a need for money. You be right Philippe, the district attorneys be a problem, if their inclination is to make most crimes a felony, the district attorneys are in fact branding the person with a scarlet letter of ‘C’ criminal, and they are not to be trusted in society at any level but the lowest of levels of existence, which puts the person at a disadvantage, and for the person to survive at the basic level of existence, they more than likely will be committing more crime, to gain money. All the commenters of discontent here have spoken the truth on the crime issue. I surmise, that if you look at the two-thirds a good number, when in their youth had a run-in with the law over drug and acquired a felony conviction, and the scarlet letter of ‘C’ stamped on their foreheads, and where given no other option for survival but criminality. Some people should be behind bars, but not for youthful indiscretions. Government be the problem here. Steal from the poor give to the rich, that is the problem!!!

    • john cummins

      I don’t agree. I am very Biblical in my thinking and all I can see Biblically is jails (not prisons) for very short term holding before a quick and speedy trial. Justice is then to be meted out rapidly. The prison systems in the Bible were strictly in the totalitarian regimes like Persia, Greece, Rome, and Egypt. Biblical justice was rapid, fair, and only involved short-term jail awaiting trial, period. What we see today is quite foreign to the Bible.

  • Samarami

    “…By all kinds of measures, we incarcerate far more people than most of the world…”

    This is an incorrect introductory sentence. I can’t speak for you, but I don’t incarcerate anybody.

    I am aware of hordes of psychopaths grouped under the mindless abstraction called “government”, or “the state”. Read this:

    Many of them are dangerously armed. A large mob of them live and operate in a place they’re calling “America” (more specifically, “United States” whatever that’s supposed to mean). They tend to operate in gangs.

    It is those lunatics who do indeed incarcerate unbelievable numbers of individuals.

    As I understand it, it all starts with the masses of people being trained to think of themselves as “citizens” (or even worse, “taxpayers”). That softens the target significantly. The psychopaths consider them “the hoi polloi”. They volunteer — often “…under penalty of perjury…” to provide not only large segments of their production, but also vast amounts of highly personal and private information about themselves. It is done under the oxymoron “voluntary compliance” (can you figure that one out???). It makes them docile and easy to locate and lock up without much of a fuss. The term “plea bargain” is bandied about in that exercise — which is sort of like an egregious shell game.

    For those who are not currently locked away, the “rulers” present bread-and-circus events. They call them “elections”. It is designed to redistribute a small portion of the pillage the dupes have already “volunteered” — in such a manner that they can assure the unwashed masses that they are “consenting-to-be-governed”.

    It’s mind-boggling when you think about it. Because mainstream publishers (and even many “alternative” writers, “libertarians”) will whine and moan and make it almost seem that if “we” just get ourselves excited and attend those elections and “vote” — why, we might just be doing our part in alleviating the machinations committed by the bad hombres. The hope is that “we” will elect a higher grade of hombre.


    Abstain from beans, my friends: Sam

    • Bill Ross

      under penalty of perjury

      which is WHY it is “interpreted” as “voluntary consent”, regardless of whether you are defrauded, bullied or terrified to “volunteer”. Can`t hold you to perjury if you, as the yanks say: “take the fifth”

      don`t sign the damn thing. don`t “volunteer”. Starve the leech.

      • Centurian

        Yeah. Tried that. And today my lawyers and accountants are having a conference with the IRS to determine my fate. Do I pay mid six figures that I don’t have? Will they enforce the threatened seizure of all of my assets (house, car, bank accounts, receivables, dogs, etc)? Do I go to jail? We don’t know. I didn’t voluntarily comply and now the boot is on my neck and the gun to my head. At least with the mafia “it’s all bidness” and you can make a deal. With this criminal enterprise, it’s much worse.

        • Bill Ross

          well, attorneys and accountants are just tax of another form. Create a problem, charge for the defense.

          My reading on this issue is what is most important is protecting your moral integrity and adding to the attrition costs for barbarians collapsing civilization. I may end up a bum on the street with my wife (supports me). This is not a defeat. Vengeance, if that is all that remains is a dish best served cold. I have their names. Then, further collapse them (tolerance of the taxed) by incarceration and gold plated medical costs which they must pay to maintain the fake illusion of compassionate, even to their enemies.

          Your mirror and being able to live what it honestly tells you, is your most valuable asset, a meaningful life.

        • Samarami

          And that, my friend, is exactly how you are supposed to feel — frightened, intimidated, threatened, submissive. You think “…my lawyers and accountants…” are actually YOUR lawyers and accountants? Conferencing with psychopaths acting under the guise and employment of an abstraction called “state”??? Think again.

          Is it YOU who issue them “license” to “practice” (whatever that’s supposed to mean)??? You will definitely pay the bill, but you will not issue them “license”. License belongs to the dog who attacks you.

          That’s the underside of what this article is about — “prisons and US and state ‘district’ attorneys”. Let this be a lesson: never, never, never, never “volunteer” anything to the white man. The natives whose land this once was should have learned that centuries ago. Sam

          • Centurian

            You are, of course correct. As I am driven out of business and my home, my last resort will have to be shooting at the looting criminals. They will overpower and kill me in the process and the state will win. I’m reminded of the Borg from Star Trek.

          • Bill Ross

            The state cannot win. Their target is the productive, the prey they feed upon. Global economic stats indicate withdrawal of productivity. Then, they will prey and war on each other, destroying themselves. QE to infinity and beyond is to mask this missing productivity and, provide them with resources to buy up REAL property, in preparation for the feudalism they are determined to restore. Also, the collapse of the tax base has forced states to be mercenaries for the counterfeiters.

            And those who manage to stay out of the crossfire can rebuild in the power vacuum. Be a hermit, pull a Thoreau, go to the woods and see what nature has to teach you regarding living deliberately. Oh, and beware the zombies.

            And, it appears we are dealing with people farmers, preparing a crop for harvest. Invest in youth, allow them to build equity, then, $hit happens, harvest time. Matters are getting pretty intense because it is the stored wealth of the boomers they covet. And, the US and west in general was also ripe, ready for harvest.

          • Samarami

            I agree with Bill. Individuals can — CAN — stay out of the crossfire. And they CAN rebuild. But not by trying to “shoot” at those who have you outmanned and outgunned. They are merely human beings attempting to justify and convince everyone (themselves most of all) that they are “…just doing their jobs…” They’re only a small niche of the problem — an evil, huge superstition called “science” of rulership. That “science” used to include “your-country”, or “your government”, or “your-great-nation” (that is, I HOPE “used to be” is accurate in your case).

            Almost 40 years ago (last time I submitted a “voluntary” confession — [by the unenlightened it’s called “filed-a-tax-return”]) I was incarcerated and stripped of everything that can be measured in federal reserve notes. They tried to take the farm from the mother of my 7 children (I had given my half to her in the divorce settlement that ensued from my non-compliant attitude). One of my sons, in law school at the time, got her exempted in one of their multi-thousand “title-26” ruses called “injured spouse relief”.

            Today I’m the healthiest and the wealthiest individual in my city.

            Ask me about it. Sam

          • Bill Ross

            I am several lifetimes of epiphanies ahead of the herd. No god but truth confirmed by natural law and, since the state is neither: not included.

            Although I suggest staying out of the crossfire for most (very dangerous game they play). They have given me far more than enough rope to hang them, which I intend to do, and profit as an intended consequence.

            Love to, am asking. Is this a matter that requires secure communications (PGP) and, are you tech savvy enough to do so? If not, either respond, or email me.

  • Bill Ross

    it will regulate behavior

    no, it won`t because it cannot. Regulation is futile for anything except enriching the regulators and the monopolists who coerce law for an uneven playing field, restricting competition:

    Regulation does, however, decree new classes of criminals (prey) to feed the maw of the beast under false law and order, security pretexts.

    • john cummins

      Yes, I read a blog today from someone advocating criminalizing “factory farms”, specifically pork. I told them the last thing we need is a bunch of new laws. I delved in further and the writer was/is closely associated with Peter Singer the nut at Princeton who advocates killing children after birth but basically NEVER killling animals. This type of weirdo “bioethicicst” is pure NAZI, Stalinist, genocidal in thought.

  • Bruce C.

    I remembered something else after posting earlier but didn’t have a chance to post it.

    Regarding District Attorneys becoming too aggressive, I learned recently while involved in my relative’s defense that one of the problems today – according to his attorney – is that in most cases the decisions to indict are NOT being made by District Attorneys but rather their paralegal staffers. It’s making defense law more difficult – or at least different – because those staffers are usually very young and inexperienced (and female – that’s just a fact) and tend to assume guilt rather than innocence. They tend to believe the prosecuting attorneys arguments more than the defense. Woe to all men who are accused of domestic violence (but not so much rape, curiously). Don’t know about other crimes. I was shocked when I learned this, and maybe that explains a few things.

  • john cummins

    I think the second reason far more likely. It could also be the general militarized police attitude is affecting attorneys. I’ve been in court and watched the cops lie, the judge merely chuckle at the obvious perjury, and then lawyers from both sides, all basically hug at the end of a simple traffic court, how much more in criminal courts? The book Victim’s Rights by Dr. Gary North addresses some of the “justice” system problems quite well. Until the victims are at the center of justice nothing good will happen.

  • VoodooChild

    Non-violent offenders shouldn’t be sent to jail in the first place. That can be addressed with fines, restitution, counseling, and community service. Sending them to jail just turns someone who made a dumb mistake into a hardened criminal when they get out and costs the taxpayer up to $75,000/yr per inmate. Then, they can’t get hired afterwards so they turn to crime or go on welfare. What a waste!

  • VoodooChild

    Private for-profit prisons are a threat to everyone’s freedom. They lobby politicians to create more laws, and they make deals with judges and prosecutors to send their victims to their facilities. When there is an economic incentive to lock people up, nobody will be free.

  • Martin the American redux

    First off, I’m against private prisons. Next it seems that an important point is missing. Àn absolutely huge number of those imprisoned BELONG behind bars. Are DA’s getting carried away? Probably, my guess, a flaw in this study, I’m betting a larger amount of drug involved crimes. Also, mandatory sentences for things like intoxicated driving.
    Check out You Tube- Richard Pryor on Sunset Strip 1982/why we need penitentiaries.

    • Stats from the US Bureau of Prisons for last month. Interesting to note the breakdown in types of offenses. Comparing those imprisoned for anything that COULD have involved violence against another (most of these categories here are surely “interpretive”) compared to everyone else who “broke the Man’s rule” is rather striking:

      a Banking and Insurance, Counterfeit, Embezzlement 650 0.3%
      b Burglary, Larceny, Property Offenses 8,102 4.2%
      c Continuing Criminal Enterprise 448 0.2%
      d Courts or Corrections 822 0.4%
      e Drug Offenses 94,134 48.4%
      f Extortion, Fraud, Bribery 12,289 6.3%
      g Homicide, Aggravated Assault, and Kidnapping Offenses 5,595 2.9%
      h Immigration 17,802 9.2%
      i Miscellaneous 1,592 0.8%
      j National Security 76 0.0%
      k Robbery 7,147 3.7%
      l Sex Offenses13,975 7.2%
      m Weapons, Explosives, Arson 31,685 16.3%

  • Pilgrim

    No ‘state’ has control over law-abiding people. By increasing the scope and extent of laws, the number of people controlled by the state also increases in scope and extent. I’ve heard it said that most people commit three felonies a day. Not because most people are vile, evil and wicked, but because our laws are designed to extend the state’s control over every man, woman and child.

    Don’t believe me? A pastor was arrested for “structuring” because he withdrew money out of the ministry’s account totaling more than $10,000 over three days. He spent 8 years in prison before the charges were dropped.