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 population”

Jail for the Privileged and Profiteers – Roger Ingalls

Another city jail opens its doors to corruption. Fremont, California over build their incarceration capacity by a factor of six so now they’ve decided to lower their vacancy rate by renting out the open cells in an attempt to turn a quarter of a million dollar profit. On the surface it sounds like a good idea because the city fixes a planning mistake and they also make money to spend elsewhere. But these profit motivated jailing programs have proven corrupt and beneficial to mainly the privileged.

Obviously, these programs cater to the wealthier members of society. As an example, if someone breaks the law and is sentenced to jail time, instead of serving time in a crowded county jail they can appeal to the judge for movement to a city facility if they pay a daily rental fee. In the case of Fremont, the daily fee is $155. If you have extra money, you can buy your way into a nicer jail with fewer prisoners and a less stressful environment. So, two criminals with the same offence with different monetary standings will serve different sentences. The poorer guy gets hell while the richer one gets a more privileged stay. Sentencing for crime should not be based on a criminal’s wealth.

picture by thinkprogress.org

picture by thinkprogress.org

Another problem with for profit jails is financial corruption. Again, it’s already been proven that judges can get bought. A for profit juvenile jail in Pennsylvania kicked back $2.6 million to two judges for keeping their facility at capacity; the infamous Kids for Cash Scandal. Offences that normally resulted in suspension from school for a few days often put teenagers in juvy-jail for months. The judges hid behind a position of zero tolerance but in actuality it was payola time.

For profit incarceration is also driving the criminalization of basic human behavior. Many of the prisons built over the past twenty years are constructed and managed by companies on the stock exchange. Many facilities originally built by local governments are now being handed over to for profit companies. Do you wonder why crime reports state that violent crimes are down but then the next report says the prison population is increasing? To attract stock investors, publicly traded incarceration companies need to grow revenue quarterly and annually…that’s how Wall Street and their financial institutions work. More prisoners equal more dollars and rehabilitation is a dirty word. These huge prison companies and their large work force hire lobbyists and political marketing firms to promote the passing of new laws or rally against movements that try to do away with bad laws that criminalize normal human behavior. Again, these companies need bodies behind bars to make money.

Jailing for the purpose of profit is a corruption of justice.

13,609 Dead and Counting

Tuesday, September 20th 2011, thirty-five bodies were dumped beneath an underpass during rush hour traffic in a Mexican coastal city.  War on Drugs Update –  the Mexican death total for 2011 now stands at 13,644.

(picture from Getty Images)

Are we, citizens of the U.S., in anyway responsible for the deaths of so many people south of our border? Is our forty year war on drugs really working? Has the prohibition of anything desired by man ever been successful? The short answers: YES, NO and NO (respectively).

When a significant number of people want something, someone or some entity will provide it. The majority will go to a legal source. If a legal source is not available, they will go to an illegal source. If there are buyers, there will be suppliers. It is that simple.

So here’s the real question. Are responsible businesses practicing lawful commerce better suited to sell drugs or are criminal gangs that make up their own rules enforced by death and violence a better choice? When the U.S. started prohibition of alcohol in the early 1900s, drinking did not stop but criminal activity, violence and death increased dramatically. These negative elements went away once alcohol was made legal again.

The War on Drugs has cost the U.S. tax payers $1 trillion and the percentage of people that use drugs has not decreased; all the usage statistics are virtually the same. What has increased are the number of deaths at the hands criminals and the prison population of non-violent drug users. This Nixon-era policy has failed because you cannot stop the will of the people. Again, if a significant number of people want something they will eventually get it, legal or not.

(Mexican Drug War Death Map, WM Consulting)

Approximately 11,000 people die in the U.S. annually from illegal drugs, over 100,000 people die from prescription medication and alcohol is linked to 75,000 deaths per year. Perhaps the war is focusing on the wrong drugs.

Our War on Drugs is a crime enabler that results in the death of 10,000 to 20,000 Mexicans annually and who knows how many people elsewhere. If we eliminate the prohibition of drugs, the western hemisphere would be a safer place for all Americans – Canadians, Chileans and all of us in between.

Stop the insanity. History proves prohibition does not work. Say no to violence, no to criminals and no to enslavement by voting No on Prohibition.

-Roger Ingalls

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Roger Ingalls is well traveled 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.

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.

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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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