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The Real Prison Industry
Townhall.com ^ | November 25, 2011 | Jonah Goldberg

Posted on 11/25/2011 9:46:47 AM PST by Kaslin

I've long thought the notion of a prison-industrial complex to be laughable left-wing nonsense peddled by Marxist goofballs and other passengers in the clown car of academic identity politics.

For those who don't know, the phrase "prison-industrial complex," or PIC, is a play on the military-industrial complex. The theory behind PIC is that there are powerful forces -- capitalist, racist, etc. -- pushing to lock up as many black and brown men as they can to maintain white supremacy and line the pockets of big-prison CEOs and shareholders with profits earned not just from the taxpayer but from the toil of prison-slave labor.

Self-described "abolitionists" in the anti-PIC cause seek to get rid of prisons altogether. Indeed, they want to abolish punishment itself.

That goes for murderers, rapists and pedophiles.

"People who have seriously harmed another need appropriate forms of support, supervision and social and economic resources," explains the website for Critical Resistance, the leading outfit in the "abolitionist" cause. In other words, if Penn State's Jerry Sandusky is found guilty on all counts, he doesn't deserve prison; he deserves "support, supervision and social and economic resources."

Personally, I think that is just bat-guano crazy.

Still, the state of our prisons has become something of a scandal. We have more prisoners today than we have soldiers, and more prison guards than Marines.

Our prisons have become boot camps for criminals. That's one reason why I'm sympathetic to Peter Moskos' idea to bring back flogging. A professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Moskos argues in his book, "In Defense of Flogging," that flogging -- aka the lash -- is more humane than prison and much, much cheaper. He suggests that perpetrators of certain crimes -- petty theft, burglary, drug dealing -- be given the option of receiving one lash instead of six months in prison.

Before you shrink from the cruelty of the proposal, ask yourself which you would prefer: six lashes or three years in jail?

Moskos' motive is to reduce the size, scope and influence of prisons while keeping them around for the people who truly must be locked up: murderers, rapists, terrorists, pedophiles, etc. I might disagree with where he would set the ideal size of our prison population (I think incarceration rates have reduced crime more than he does), or how many lashes criminals should get, but he makes a compelling case, and his objective is reasonable.

But it's not an objective shared by the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA). This was the outfit that essentially destroyed then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's attempt to fix the state budget.

In a state where more than two-thirds of crime is attributable to recidivism, CCPOA has spent millions of dollars lobbying against rehabilitation programs, favoring instead policies that will grow the inmate population and the ranks of prison guard unions. In 1999, it successfully killed a pilot program for alternative sentencing for nonviolent offenders. In 2005, it helped kill Schwarzenegger's plan to reduce overcrowding by putting up to 20,000 inmates in a rehabilitation program. It opposes any tinkering with the "three strikes law" that might thin the prison rolls.

According to UCLA economist Lee E. Ohanian in a illuminating paper for The American, "America's Public Sector Union Dilemma," California's corrections officers have exploited their monopoly labor power to push policies that will expand the prison population and, as a result, the demand for more guards who just happen to be the best-paid corrections officers in the country. That's why, contrary to what the Marxist sages would expect, they've successfully kept privately run prisons out of the state.

Meanwhile, incarceration costs in the essentially bankrupt state are exploding. California spends $44,000 per inmate, compared with the national average of $28,000. A state prison nurse exploited overtime rules to earn $269,810 in one year.

Also contrary to left-wing expectations, these policies have been implemented not so much by the hard-hearted captains of industry and their Republican lackeys, but by a Democrat-controlled state legislature lubricated with donations from a powerful public-sector union.

The system is now up for much-needed reform thanks to a court order mandating that California fix the prison mess. Gov. Jerry Brown, whose 2010 gubernatorial campaign received more than $2 million from CCPOA, has been forced to figure something out.

Still, I suppose I owe the folks in the clown car at least a small apology. They're still nuts, but they're right about the existence of a prison-industrial complex. They were just looking in the wrong direction.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial; US: California
KEYWORDS: prisons; unions

1 posted on 11/25/2011 9:46:54 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin
Moskos' motive is to reduce the size, scope and influence of prisons while keeping them around for the people who truly must be locked up: murderers, rapists, terrorists, pedophiles, etc.

He's wrong! Everyone on that list should be executed - not in prison!

2 posted on 11/25/2011 9:55:59 AM PST by Paleo Conservative
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To: Kaslin
Peter Moskos idea will never fly
unless the lashor is instructed to first tell the
lashee, that ‘he feels his pain’.

The idea might fly if the SEIU can
incorporate all lashor’s into their
Union.

I'd pay to see some legislators get
the lash for lying. Could reduce
the deficit.

3 posted on 11/25/2011 10:00:42 AM PST by seenenuf ( PREPARE TO BE TESTED!)
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To: Kaslin

My son and girlfriend were pulled over Wednesday night for “following too close”, officer arrested both of them for oustanding traffic violations. Thrown in the county jail until family bails them out. (Yes, over Thanksgiving holiday). Yes, the prison system has become a huge money maker for some. (County prosecuter with financial ties to prison food vending company) The present “Correctional” system is not correcting anybody and making huge profits for those with “connections”.


4 posted on 11/25/2011 10:06:14 AM PST by vanilla swirl (We are the Patrick Henry we have been waiting for!)
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To: Kaslin

A couple of decades ago an American kid in (I think) Singapore was caught spray painting graffiti and was sentenced to the lash. America was scandalized. But on the plane into Singapore there was an orientation lecture. No gum, no graffiti, etc. The laws and penalties were explained. The sentencing was on the news nightly and the whole thing was followed like the OJ trial. After the sentence had been carried out the news commentator, who had flown over special so he could have local color in the background, was explaining how barbaric it was, but he ended his piece with, “Well, I bet he never does THAT again. Back to you, Walter.” It hit me that, no, he wouldn’t. And that should be the point of any punishment.

What scares me is there will be attempts to ‘balance’ the punishments by including a sufficient amount of Caucasians, for example, to ensure “fairness;” whether it is Caucasians committing the offenses or not.


5 posted on 11/25/2011 10:06:23 AM PST by Gen.Blather
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To: Kaslin
He suggests that perpetrators of certain crimes .. be given the option of receiving one lash instead of six months in prison.

One lash? Seriously, one lash?? - Get freaking real

6 posted on 11/25/2011 10:08:11 AM PST by bill1952 (Choice is an illusion created between those with power - and those without)
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To: Gen.Blather

Close - it wasn’t the lash it was the Cane.
I agreed with Singapore 100% - and we NEED that here, as well


7 posted on 11/25/2011 10:13:52 AM PST by bill1952 (Choice is an illusion created between those with power - and those without)
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To: Kaslin

I think that spanking criminals would help with their lack of impulse control.


8 posted on 11/25/2011 10:14:36 AM PST by Jonty30 (If a person won't learn under the best of times, than he must learn under the worst of times.)
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To: vanilla swirl

...officer arrested both of them for oustanding traffic violations.


Outstanding traffic violations? And....you are taking up for them?

You did a real sweet job of raising the boy to ignore laws. Maybe, in the future he will ignore enough laws to end up in the “Prison industry” too.


9 posted on 11/25/2011 10:48:47 AM PST by DH (Once the tainted finger of government touches anything the rot begins)
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To: Jonty30

I know a lotta guys that would volunteer to administer spankings-and then turn around and swap places.


10 posted on 11/25/2011 10:49:19 AM PST by DIRTYSECRET
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To: Kaslin

“Still, the state of our prisons has become something of a scandal. We have more prisoners today than we have soldiers, and more prison guards than Marines. “

I question that old canard. Per http://www.cis.org/ImmigrantCrime

“The Federal Bureau of Prisons reports that 26.4 percent of inmates in federal prisons are non-U.S. citizens. Non-citizens are 8.6 percent of the nation’s adult population.”

That’s a big number.


11 posted on 11/25/2011 10:51:23 AM PST by SuzyQue
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To: DH

Unpaid traffic tickets is nothing. In my province, you can’t renew your drivers or register your car until the fines are all paid up, so the government gets its money any way.


12 posted on 11/25/2011 10:55:07 AM PST by Jonty30 (If a person won't learn under the best of times, than he must learn under the worst of times.)
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To: Kaslin
For those who don't know, the phrase "prison-industrial complex," or PIC, is a play on the military-industrial complex.

There is also a government/corporate medical-complex, and it makes the PIC look like a piker.

13 posted on 11/25/2011 11:34:06 AM PST by E. Pluribus Unum ("The very idea of a community organizer is to stir up a mob for some political purpose." Ann Coulter)
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To: Kaslin

3 strikes,...you're out.

14 posted on 11/25/2011 11:42:50 AM PST by Cvengr (Adversity in life and death is inevitable. Thru faith in Christ, stress is optional.)
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To: Jonty30

“Unpaid traffic tickets is nothing. In my province, you can’t renew your drivers or register your car until the fines are all paid up, so the government gets its money any way.”

That’s nothing; here in NJ many illegals dirve with no license, insurance, or registration.


15 posted on 11/25/2011 11:58:50 AM PST by kearnyirish2
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To: Gen.Blather
There was an interesting segment on a Sunday evening news program a while back about "social happiness," in which test groups from different nations were polled and asked a number of questions about their views of their society and government, their personal sense of happiness and contentment, and their loyalty or cynicism about the social order in which they lived. The researchers then ranked all of the nations included in the survey from top to bottom, based on a measure they called "social happiness" or something like that.

To their surprise, the two nations of the world that graded at the very top were Denmark and Singapore. It was a surprise to the researchers because they initially couldn't find anything in common between them: Denmark was known for being democratic, laid-back and libertarian, while Singapore was known for its fast-paced economic climate and its pretty repressive government run by a ruling family.

The two countries that ranked at the bottom of the list were Iraq and Italy.

When they looked a little closer, what the researchers found was that "happiness" was not primarily a function of freedom vs. repression in a society, but by a sense of objective order. Despite the perception among outsiders that Singapore's government was repressive (or even brutal, in some cases), what gave its citizenry a sense of contentment was that they lived under a legal system that was governed by an objective order in which all people would be treated just as harshly as the next if they violated that moral/legal code. They were perfectly fine with that, and the presence of that underlying objective order was the one key element that was common to both Singapore and Denmark.

Iraq and Italy, on the other hand, were marked by large-scale discontentment because most of the people in those countries went through their daily lives with the expectation that their government -- and even their entire social order -- was rotten to the core and corrupt beyond repair.

16 posted on 11/25/2011 12:10:59 PM PST by Alberta's Child ("If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested.")
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To: DIRTYSECRET; Jonty30

“I know a lotta guys that would volunteer to administer spankings-and then turn around and swap places.”

Reminds me of the old joke:

Masochist: “Beat me! Whip me now!”
Sadist: “No, I won’t!”


17 posted on 11/25/2011 12:19:11 PM PST by Blue_Ridge_Mtn_Geek
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To: bill1952

I think Moskos’s proposal is light, but his proposal is one lash (on bare skin with a nasty whip or cane which will cut the skin with each stroke) per six months of prison sentence. One stroke of the lash per three months of normal sentence strikes me as a better trade-off. Of course, his main point was to get us to think about what “penitentiaries” have become, not places where any penance typically take place, and far less humane than the punishment they replaced for most crimes: flogging.

Of course, considering that the courts are giving out six-month sentences for “fleeing and eluding” to folks (at least black folks, or maybe folks with an eight-year old DUI as their only previous brush with the law) with the temerity to not instantaneously realize that the patrol car’s flashers coming on was directed at them before they’d driven 100 feet or so (yes, I have an example), maybe in some cases his proposal might even be harsh.


18 posted on 11/25/2011 12:55:16 PM PST by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know. . .)
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To: Kaslin

bump


19 posted on 11/25/2011 1:22:44 PM PST by Mark17 (California, where English is a foreign language)
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To: vanilla swirl

My son and girlfriend were pulled over Wednesday night for “following too close”,

Good. Was your girlfriend more pissed at your son or the cops?


20 posted on 11/25/2011 1:42:19 PM PST by Figment
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To: vanilla swirl

so, the kids...... are they both scofflaws or just your son?


21 posted on 11/25/2011 1:50:23 PM PST by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 ..... Crucifixion is coming)
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To: Kaslin
I keep wondering why the green-energy craze has not yet rediscovered the old-style treadmills again:


22 posted on 11/25/2011 2:52:15 PM PST by Ellendra ("It's astounding how often people mistake their own stupidity for a lack of fairness." --Thunt)
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To: Kaslin

The idea of a corporal punishment (like caning) has appeal.

But for the lesser crimes, I’d like to see many of the convicted put into hard labor situations.

You punch in at 7:00AM and punch out at 5:00PM. They spend their time picking up trash, shovelling snowy sidewalks for senior citizens, sweeping gutters, cleaning graffiti, etc.

Their entire day revolves around being put to work - serious work. I’m not talking about community service here. I’m talking serious work.


23 posted on 11/25/2011 11:03:41 PM PST by MplsSteve (Amy Klobuchar is no moderate. She's Al Franken with a nicer smile.)
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To: Jonty30
I think that spanking criminals would help with their lack of impulse control.

That spinning sound you hear is coming from Dr. Spock's tomb.

24 posted on 11/26/2011 1:55:29 AM PST by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going)
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To: Kaslin

The leftist aka progressives really get off on catch phrases, and buzz words. Prison industrial complex? Military industrial complex? How about the educational industrial complex? How about the transportation industrial complex? Anytime you have government doing things. You will have a industry built around it.
If you want to avoid increasing the prison industrial complex. Simply stop breaking the law!


25 posted on 11/26/2011 5:36:54 AM PST by DMG2FUN
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To: DMG2FUN

I like auto union industrial complex

If those here with the China Derangement Syndrome were successful, General Motors would cease to be in spite of all the money stolen to prop it up.


26 posted on 11/26/2011 5:46:52 AM PST by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 ..... Crucifixion is coming)
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To: DMG2FUN
If you want to avoid increasing the prison industrial complex. Simply stop breaking the law!


27 posted on 11/26/2011 7:26:18 AM PST by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going)
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To: Kaslin
A professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Moskos argues in his book, "In Defense of Flogging," that flogging -- aka the lash -- is more humane than prison and much, much cheaper.

I agree with him.

28 posted on 11/26/2011 7:28:52 AM PST by Tribune7 (Perry, Newt, Cain or Santorum)
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To: Elsie
That spinning sound you hear is coming from Dr. Spock's tomb.

Before his demise, Spock abandoned his long-held position on that...

the infowarrior

29 posted on 11/26/2011 7:50:59 AM PST by infowarrior
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To: infowarrior

But the horse has already left the barn.

Did he RECALL any of his books?


30 posted on 11/26/2011 11:39:20 AM PST by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going)
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To: The_Reader_David

Sorry, I don’t agree with any of that - if you said that a prisoner could knock off a day or two for every lash once the minimum was already served, then I can see the argument - One lash is a joke.


31 posted on 11/26/2011 11:47:29 AM PST by bill1952 (Choice is an illusion created between those with power - and those without)
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To: SuzyQue

Fly them home, drop them off....


32 posted on 11/26/2011 12:10:32 PM PST by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing)
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To: Alberta's Child
It dawns on me that children respond the same way. One set of rules, understandable, evenly enforced, but enforced without fail gives a sense of security. The law is not the threat, because it is plain and known, and administration is fair. No matter how 'strict', the penalties are known and inevitable, thus avoidable as well by following the rules.

While that can be carried to opressive extremes, it is the ambiguity, stupidity (on occasion), and uneven enforcement of our laws which makes the system stressful to the average person who is not ludicrously naive.

33 posted on 11/26/2011 12:23:17 PM PST by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing)
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To: Alberta's Child

In other words, “social happiness” is closely related to rule of law ideals (the pricincple all laws should be applied as consistently as possible to all).


34 posted on 11/26/2011 1:14:02 PM PST by Red Dog #1
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To: Kaslin

CA public sector is managed primarily as an ‘ATM’ for the Rats


35 posted on 11/26/2011 2:58:20 PM PST by 4Liberty (88% of Americans are NON-UNION. We value honest, peaceful Free trade-NOT protectionist CARTELS)
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