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Restoring Prisons and Prisoners on Our Watch ^ | August 6, 2014 | Harry R. Jackson, Jr

Posted on 08/06/2014 4:54:14 PM PDT by Kaslin

America prides itself on being the land of the free, but over the past four decades our prison population has risen tenfold. We have by far the highest rate of incarceration in the world, and as a consequence, at least 2.7 million children have at least one parent in prison. Some fathers have abandoned their children, but others have been locked away from them.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the federal prison population is 37 percent black, 32 percent Latino, and 28 percent white. Professor Michelle Alexander of Ohio State University went so far as to compare this trend to the legal discrimination in the American South in her book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness. Even if one rejects the slightly conspiratorial tone of the book, the racial composition of the prison population is very alarming. Further, there is no question that most prisoners remain marginalized by society even after they are freed.

No sane person would question that some criminals absolutely belong behind bars; we do not want rapists and murderers out on the street. But according to a study by the Center for Economics and Policy Research, 60% of America’s 2.3 million prisoners are non-violent offenders. Many prisoners may be guilty of crimes as minor as shoplifting or marijuana use. There is no doubt that our society must protect property rights and discourage the use of illegal substances, but are extended prison sentences the answer for these kinds of crimes?

Most critics of the current system point to the well-intended but tragically unsuccessful War on Drugs and its accompanying mandatory sentencing laws as one of the reasons for the high minority incarceration rate. These laws must be understood in their historical context unravel their web of confusion. For the first half of the twentieth century, homicides and other violent crimes were steadily declining. Then the Supreme Court made a series of rulings under Chief Justice Earl Warren which drastically changed the way criminals could be prosecuted and convicted. The homicide rate more than doubled between 1963 and 1973 and continued to rise, hitting an all-time high in the early 1990’s.

In response, stricter sentencing laws were passed. The “Three Strikes” laws passed by a number of states imposed extended prison sentences (usually 20 years to life) on criminals convicted of three felonies. As a result, violent crimes have been declining since this early 1990’s, and homicides in 2013 were at all-time lows for cities like New York and Philadelphia.

But in the process they have also kept thousands of petty thieves and low-level drug offenders out of the workforce and away from their children. So what do we do with non-violent drug users, who currently make up a quarter of the prison population? Historically, politicians have failed to put forth any alternative to mass incarceration other than outright legalization of currently illegal drugs. The undeniably positive result of legalization is that it would remove the profit motive from the drug trade, causing cartels and gangs to implode overnight. But we would also face the very real possibility that the consumption of drugs which utterly debase human life—cocaine and heroin, for example—would become normalized. And no one from any political party wants heroin usage on the scale that people currently consume alcohol.

But there are options other than long-term incarceration and legalization. The right kind of mentorship can make a huge difference as well, even for violent offenders. The Prison Entrepreneurship Program, pioneered in Texas by former Wall Street professional Catherine Rohr combines loving support and intense accountability with entrepreneurial training to produce what is perhaps the most successful inmate rehabilitation program in the country. In 2012, its three-year recidivism rate was less than 7%, and it saved Texas taxpayers millions of dollars in incarceration costs.

We do not want to return to the violent crime levels of the early 1990’s, but we do not want to keep thousands of people behind bars unnecessarily. With that in mind, sensible, means-tested reform is long overdue.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: corrections; prisonsystem

1 posted on 08/06/2014 4:54:15 PM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Legalization of marijuana is a good first step toward fixing this.

2 posted on 08/06/2014 4:57:34 PM PDT by Little Ray (How did I end up in this hand-basket, and why is it getting so hot?)
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To: Kaslin
With that in mind, sensible, means-tested reform is long overdue.

As soon as I see that phrase I know everything proposed is liberal BS.

3 posted on 08/06/2014 4:58:22 PM PDT by DakotaGator (Weep for the lost Republic! And keep your powder dry!!)
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To: Kaslin

Bring back hanging for most crimes, problem solved.

4 posted on 08/06/2014 5:03:29 PM PDT by jameslalor
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To: Kaslin

We need to take the profit out of prisons. No more private prisons, no more prison guard unions. The taxpayers are the ones getting raped in this prison movie.

5 posted on 08/06/2014 5:06:10 PM PDT by Tau Food (Never give a sword to a man who can't dance.)
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To: Kaslin
There is no doubt that our society must protect property rights and discourage the use of illegal substances,

Discourage? Yes.

Act like nazis on krystalnacht? NO!

6 posted on 08/06/2014 5:06:35 PM PDT by rawcatslyentist (Jeremiah 50:32 "The arrogant one will stumble and fall ; / ?)
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To: Kaslin

So what really happened to cause our prisons to have so many more prisoners than before

Making marijuana legal led to the use of harder drugs.

Allowing people who have never read our Constitution, or could understand it if they could, to become citizens.

7 posted on 08/06/2014 5:11:57 PM PDT by kitkat (STORM HEAVEN WITH PRAYERS FOR OUR COUNTRY)
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To: kitkat

We have turned prisons from a place of punishment to a place of “rehabilitation” as if crime was a disease or a handicap rather than a choice of action. If criminals faced hard time they wouldn’t want to return and the recidivist rate would drop. It would also turn prisons into a place to fear rather than a place of higher education in crime.

8 posted on 08/06/2014 5:15:25 PM PDT by JMS
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To: Kaslin
Start hanging the violent ones within weeks of conviction. That would make more room in the prisons. It also prevents recidivism.

Make the hangings an all prisoners must watch. Broadcast on the evening news.

"Ceterum censeo 0bama esse delendam."

Garde la Foi, mes amis! Nous nous sommes les sauveurs de la République! Maintenant et Toujours!
(Keep the Faith, my friends! We are the saviors of the Republic! Now and Forever!)

LonePalm, le Républicain du verre cassé (The Broken Glass Republican)

9 posted on 08/06/2014 5:36:50 PM PDT by LonePalm (Commander and Chef)
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Wrong. There is little focus on rehabilitation and with a majority in for drugs, rehab is needed. Add to the a complete lack of opportunity once you serve your time and you get what we currently have, a revolving door of misery and social failure. How is that scarlet letter program working out these days?

I doubt any of you calling for hard labor or hard time have stepped foot in prison. Its not summer camp. Loss of freedom, rape, abuse, that is far from a system even remotely interested in dealing with the nature of crime. Simple solutions to complex problems are a recipe for failure but it takes a non simple mind to understand that. That is asking a lot from prozac addled baby boomers who call for hard time for drug users while swilling booze and prescription medicine and avoiding problems. I’m sure many are happy living in a stone age with stone age mentality and tactics but you are the reason for our current justice system, its tyranny, and failure. Congratulations baby boomers for turning America into a Prison State.

This is why Republicans are a party of losers. They continue to institute the same policies and programs and hide from failure yet expect the rest of us to smile when you double down on your miserable institution of fail. You cannot have a system of limited gov when you throw everyone in jail for behavior “you don’t like”. You cant afford to stand on the bodies of victims where there aren’t any. Many don’t even know what a victimless crime is. Just sweep the criminals under the rug... all criminals are the same, let me hide from the truth.

Real men, honest men, godly men admit failure and learn. They modify their systems when they produce negative results. They dont let childish notions like fear of change hold them back. Changes is coming and it is about time. The American dream needs to be let out of jail to make room for crimes where there are actual victims... not imaginary ones where you get to fellate your false sense of moral superiority.

10 posted on 08/06/2014 6:18:44 PM PDT by drunknsage
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To: drunknsage

Rehab is costly and not necessarily effective. There needs to be better metrics for it.

11 posted on 08/06/2014 6:23:15 PM PDT by JmyBryan
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To: drunknsage

Illegal drugs are the America Dream!


For the record I don’t drug users should be in prison, I think dealers and traffickers should be in prison. But that is probably too complex and nuanced a position for some people to grasp.

12 posted on 08/06/2014 6:28:31 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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To: drunknsage
Real men, honest men, godly men admit failure and learn. They modify their systems when they produce negative results. They don't let childish notions like fear of change hold them back

There's your payoff line.

Many of these are NOT 'real' men, and they DAMNED sure are not godly men. They are over-grown adolescents who never had a good example of a MAN in the house to know HOW to act like a man. They'll tell God or anyone who represents Him to take a hike.

I would venture to guess that 90% or more of men in prison are lost causes and un-redeemable. The only options are to keep them locked up for life or destroy them.

What's cheaper? (And yes...modern life has made me very cynical.)

13 posted on 08/06/2014 6:41:22 PM PDT by hoagy62 ("Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered..."-Thomas Paine. 1776)
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To: Kaslin

well-intended but tragically unsuccessful War on Drugs”

The War on Drugs is working exactly as planned and intended, anyone that believes that it was or is unsuccessful is just plain Stupid. The problem is Most People have no idea what “The War on Drugs” was ever about in the first place. It was, is and always has been about Power,Control, And MONEY.

85%-90% of ALL “Controlled Substances” not available by Prescription come into the United States from our Southern Border with Mexico. 3/4ths of All Government at ALL LEVELS, city,county,state,federal are Directly Involved in the “War on Drugs”. We currently have a “Federally Protected” Smuggling Zone in Nogales, Americans are Forbidden.

Every Major Financial Institution in the US has been Fined for Laundering money for the Cartels. None of this could happen without the full support of those in Government, unless you can name a business that does Billions of Dollars a month in CASH SALES besides Costco or Walmart.
It could not be done without GOVERNMENT APPROVAL.

The War on Drugs is a Tyrants Wet Dream, and has turned the US into a Fascist State. Just ask yourself what would happen to the War on Drugs if we actually had Real Border Security?? Who would Fire 3 out of 4 Gestapo Agents? what about the Supreme Rulers in Black dresses carrying hammers, Probation Departments, Prisons, Guards, Entire Government Agencies would be wiped out overnight, Thousands of Small businesses that provide services to these agencies and people would vanish, Millions and Millions of Government Employees would be unemployed overnight. Who would hire them? What would they do? All they know is Fascism, and How to Violate the rights of their fellow man and steal his property using civil asset forfeiture laws.

If the War on Drugs was about Drugs, Barry Soetero has admitted PUBLICLY TO NUMEROUS FELONIES as well as most of CONGRESS, shouldn’t they be Tried, Convicted and then Executed or at Least Jailed for LIFE for their ADMITTED FELONIES in the WAR on DRUGS in which THEY ARE WAGING on their Fellow Man??? Would that be considered TREASON?? President signed an Executive Order Declaring a ‘War on Drugs” Congress immediately passed Legislation to the Same. Sounds like Treason to me. ANd I will leave you with this, and it is verifiable, you can look it up.

Attorney General William French Smith under President Reagan, went before CONGRESS and asked for and RECEIVED a WAIVER to Import and SELL COCAINE in the US to FINANCE their War in Nicaragua. But hey This Attorney General provided weapons to the CARTELS and also Laundered their Drug Money.

14 posted on 08/06/2014 7:26:34 PM PDT by eyeamok
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To: eyeamok

oops, President Nixon gave us this ,missed a word.

15 posted on 08/06/2014 7:29:01 PM PDT by eyeamok
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To: hoagy62
"90% of men in prison are lost causes and un-redeemable"

To whom? Society or God? And whom are you and I to be sitting in judgment? I have known men who have been there and pulled themselves back from the abyss as well as men whom have spent their lives as respected members of the community, only to fall into that abyss.

16 posted on 08/06/2014 7:30:47 PM PDT by SouthParkRepublican
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To: SouthParkRepublican

I will not say that you are wrong. You make a very valid point.

However, if you go back and read responses to many past threads on FR concerning what to do with prisoners, I believe you will find the vast majority of people on FR wish to be rid of them. Permanently.

I can think of at least 10 times the words “electric bleachers” has been used by various FReepers in the past. The average FReeper has gone well past the point of giving a damn toward any that break the law.

Which raises another valid question: When it comes to what do with prisoners, who’s attitudes need to change? And to what?

17 posted on 08/06/2014 7:48:44 PM PDT by hoagy62 ("Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered..."-Thomas Paine. 1776)
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To: Kaslin

In my opinion prisons are not an effective solution, in-fact they make things worse, weak non-violent prisoners become targets of sexual assault and come out mentally damaged and more likely to commit another crime, especially since it’s hard for them to find work.

Depending on the crime the punishment should be death or forced restitution to the victims (or forced drug treatment, whatever is needed). Only a small number of people are too dangerous to be let free who don’t also deserve to die. Line em up against a wall.

18 posted on 08/06/2014 10:47:56 PM PDT by Impy (Think for yourself)
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