Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “prison industry”

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.

Ganja Grannies Get the Pokey

Say it isn’t so grandma! Did you get thrown in the pokey for growing marijuana?

Last Friday, two senior grandmothers—one 72 years old and the other 65—were busted for growing cannabis in their home. With bail set at $100,000, they are still behind bars. Are women of this age going to jump bail and high-tail it across the border? I don’t think so. Set bail at a reasonable level and let these ladies go home.

At what point do we just make this stuff legal again? Twenty-six million Americans smoke marijuana frequently and a whopping 100 million Americans admit to smoking pot at some point in their life—that’s one third of the US population. More people use cannabis on a regular basis than drink green tea.

Cannabis has been part of humanity as far back as man has been documenting history. How long has it been used, 10,000 years, 50,000 years? No one really knows but man and cannabis have probably evolved together for quite some time.

Why, after thousands of years of use, was cannabis made illegal 80 years ago? Two reasons: Big Business and racism. Dupont introduced synthetic material which had to compete with the sturdy hemp fabrics. To eliminate his competition, Mr. Dupont pushed his political friends in Washington to make the cannabis plant illegal. In addition, Hearst Paper Manufacturing produced paper goods based on timber that came from Hearst’s vast land holdings—Hearst wanted to eliminate paper made from hemp. Hearst Publishing used their media to promote horror stories about marijuana, “The Crazy Mexican Weed”. During the Great Depression, Mexicans were racially targeted for taking jobs from whites and the marijuana law was a key tool for deportation. Corporate greed and racism were the driving forces behind criminalization.

Isn’t it time to stop criminalizing benign human behavior? Clearly, a significant portion of the population does not believe that the use of cannabis is a crime. Adults of all ages smoke pot and now we even have grandmothers grow it. It’s safer than alcohol, safer than cigarettes and has medicinal value; what else does this plant need to do…back flips?

It’s time to stop the madness. Do we really need a multi-billion dollar prison industry to lock-up people for doing something that’s been legal for eons? Let people be people.

-Roger Ingalls


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.

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