The New American Slave (Roger Ingalls)
Remember that game teachers played to help develop our logic and reasoning skills? They would hold up a picture and ask, “what’s wrong with this picture” and we would have to figure it out.
Well, my fellow Americans, what’s wrong with this picture?
Based on the incarceration numbers shown in this chart, it appears that many Americans suddenly became criminals during the Nixon administration and turned more evil during the Reagan administration.
Now, I ask you, does this really make sense? Did the citizens of the United States exponentially turn to the dark side during the 70s and 80s? Your gut is probably saying no, people don’t change that drastically. Your intuition is correct, the people didn’t change but the laws did.
Virtually overnight, human behavior was criminalized by Nixon’s War On Drugs legislation. This was conservative backlash for the 1960’s Enlightened Movements. Ten years later, the Reagans stepped into the Whitehouse. While the country was in a recession, Nancy spent a few hundred thousand dollars on new dinnerware and this didn’t go over well with the public. The spin doctors came to her rescue and she became the Just Say No First Lady. The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 came into existence along with harsh penalties for drug related crimes.
Nixon’s prohibition of recreational drugs and the subsequent draconian penalties are responsible for the exponential growth of the prison and jail populations. To make matter worse, incarceration is becoming more privatized and the bigger prison companies are publicly traded. Wall Street expects these for profit companies to grow annually at a rate that is faster than the real crime rate. Do we see a problem here? The prison industry, their lobbyists and law enforcement need more criminalization of human behavior and harsher penalties to maintain jobs and profits.
Throughout history man has used mind altering substances, it’s our nature. It is estimated that 30% of those incarcerated have committed non-violent drug related crimes.
Taxpayers can no longer afford an annual $70 billion bill for the War On Drugs.
We need to do away with the prohibition of recreational drugs and regulate them similar to tobacco and alcohol. We also need to do away with for profit incarceration that creates incentives for enslavement.
The 40 year experiment of criminalizing human behavior has failed.
Roger Ingalls is well travelled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.
Roger, at first I looked at the graph and thought you had committed the “little white lie” of just showing the top of a graph to dramatize the effect. But NOOOOO. It really IS THAT CRAZY! Aaaaaaargh! You’ve done some good research into this private prison thing – could you show us a comparison of the costs to society of letting these drug offenders go versus incarcerating them? You would have to take into account things like work lost due to acid trips and so forth. On the other side would be included enforcement, processing, court costs, etc. Maybe too much work but I’d love to see this. I’m sure it’s shocking.
I was shocked when seeing this and similar data for the first time. There’s a lot of cost info out there and I do plan to do some follow-up pieces on this subject. Here’s a quick stat: 700,000 non-violent drug offenders incarcerated at a cost of ~ $40K each per year…$28 Billion annually.