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12/04/2011

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I appreciate you for this great post....the racism you stated, still appears in the mind of public since the pas nelson mandela's perion.

Carla Condo

I think some of the beliefs still inspire, but the American Dream is long in the past.

lee

maybe, but that is a guarantee. you know that.

Paul Smith

Merci beaucoup pour votre article.

citizen 1

The reason our system is capable of "convicting" and imprisoning so many citizens is directly related to the failure of the courts to insist that (1) sentencing demonstrate some relationship to actual societal harm, thereby deferring to the legislative and executive branches despite Constitutional limitations on punishment (2) the lack of any REAL representation of indigent defendants at ALL levels and branches of our system (3) criminalizing conduct in a Puritanical manner bowing to majority tyranny and religious zealots (4) our "capitalistic" dog eat dog socioeconomic system which effectively eats its young (5) idiot Judges such as Posner who believe all justice should be administered in accordance with some economic postulates (6) opportunistic unethical politicians who regularly campaign on "law and order" platforms pandering to the worst elements of our society. Is there a two tiered system of justice? Everyone knows that "crimes" committed by poor and minorities are punished far more severely than the "white collar" crimes of the white middle and upper class majorities. Much of the "crime" is related to the criminalization of marijuana and other so called "drugs" which would inflict damage only upon those who use the drugs and their immediate families IF the criminalization did not artificially decrease supply and inflate prices which then promote illegal distribution and violent crime in the same manner as prohibition during the early 20th Century. Then, when these poor minorities are arrested they are "assigned" to "defenders" who run them through the system like cattle. Just imagine if all indigent defendants demanded trial AND the law actually provided that they could not be punished for insisting upon their full Constitutional rights. The system would reverse itself immediately. The State and Feds would be begging the defenders to cut a deal in recognition that the Courts could not try all of these poor people. Instead, the defendants are usually overcharged and threatened with draconian penalties to "persuade" them to just "plead guilty and get it over with." The function of the so called "defenders" is just to "review the file", make token appearances and bash the defendant mentally into surrendering and "doing his time" which means forfeiting a substantial part of his limited life. Having watched this "system of justice" for decades, it truly turns your stomach after awhile. But people like Posner do nothing about it, just letting the poor and powerless suffer with outrageously cruel sentences for "drug offenses" which often "victimize" only those willing to participate. Posner pretends that somehow he bears no responsibility for his role in this charade. Disgusting.

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There is a lot of great information here both in the post and in the comments.

Based on all of the information presented here I would definitely say yes the States imprison way too many people and it seems to me that a lot of those people shouldn't be there.

The stat that blew my mind was;

"the incarceration rate had been 118 per 100,000 in 1950, and actually fell in 1972 to 93 per 100,00. By 2000 it had reached 469 and only since the advent of the economic crisis"

That is a skyrocketing number that really doesn't make sense to me, in 18 years the incarceration rate went up over 300%, absolutely crazy.

There are a lot of problems in North America these days it seems but that is definitely something that needs to be taken care of, how do you get numbers that high?

Adam

Another consideration is that of the prison lifestyle. Is the lifestyle there more like a community where criminals can network, establish relationships and continue their ways or does it really work as a rehabilitation center to get people living withing the laws of our country?

Apparently the system is not effective.

Jack

Wheelie: Yep! Surely such a trend should (have) set off alarms, caused Congressional committees to form, and perhaps (heresy I know) cause at least a few "leaders" to see how the more civilized nations are achieving far better results. But! could it be the prison-industrial complex wagging the dog? Or worse?

Jack

GaaaaaaWD! In the last few days Congress has to accomplish anything it spends its time with ponyshow wanking over the silliest of "balanced budget amendments" ever.

Do they really think that riding a "wave" of 14% approval (was it McCain who deemed it "down to immediate family and paid help?) they're likely to implement a Constitutional amendment, and one that blatantly furthers the ALL FOR THE RICH agenda they no longer even try to camouflage?

Suggestion: IF they wanted to go down in history for adding an amendment surely the only possibility and one of lasting worth would be that of overturning the infamous democracy destroying "Citizens United" SC decision that allows unlimited funds to be deployed under names like "C/U" to assassinate the character of those running for office as Bush's buddy Sam Wyly did to McCain in S. Carolina 1999.

There is NO way this nation can survive the onslaught of shadowy figures and soulless global corporations deciding who is fit for office with their billions, ie. advancing the ALL FOR THE RICH agenda.

But then? We've front running Newt coming straight out with a fantastic tax cutting scheme continuing the ALL FOR THE RICH agenda that would blow another $3,000,000,000,000 hole in the budget..... unless he can take enough food out of the mouths of the working folk to "pay for it".

NEH

Jack, This reminds me of a little joke, "There was an elephant that made a trip to Las Vegas to find a candidate for his party. He thought that the best place to find one was at the banks of slot machines that lined the hallway. He put his money in and pulled the lever and put his money in and pulled the lever and he put his money in and pulled the lever once again. After spending millions of dollars, all he ever got was a row of lemons." ;)

All of the long time Republicans I know and have talked to have told me that if the election were held today, they would be forced to vote for Obama and the Democrats. Says a lot for the condition and state of the National Republican Party. As for the Congressional grid and mindlock, it's only a matter of time. Hopefully, we'll be able to survive it all...

NEH

BTW, Jack, As for Newt, all one needs do is to remember "The Contract with America" program, but nowadays, Contracts are meant too be broken and we wonder why we have problems... ;)

Ziran Zhang

The question "does America imprison too many people?" cannot be objectively answered without a measurement of the real costs and benefits of incarceration. Yet as you pointed out at the end of your post, these costs are often difficult, if not impossible, to measure.

We can try comparing ourselves to foreign nations, but some will always argue that America is a different country. For example, we are more racially diverse. (Do these differences make us a radically different country? who knows.)

Consciously or unconsciously, I think how we answer this question often comes down to how one subjectively perceives the whole idea of criminal punishment: do we prefer mercy? or vengeance? When there is nothing else better to rely on, maybe this is a legitimate approach.

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What an awesome idea! Very neat.

Jack

NEH.. Ha! And it would seem many decent Americans who happen to identify with the Republican Party....... perhaps during a better era? will have to do the same.

Ziran: At magnitudes like locking folks up at 5 or more times the rates of "similar" nations......... it's certainly a target rich environment for identifying waste and inhumane policies.

"Vengeance?" Perhaps retribution in the case of property crimes, but in prisons full of people having something related to drugs?

BTW the oft quoted "eye for an eye" stemming from biblical times in a part of the world, then and now, engaging in overly harsh punishments? A hand for a loaf of bread? The thief crucified next to Jesus? Could it have been a call for lesser penalties? What is a craftsman or farmer to do with but one hand?

Recently in a discussion of education the speaker mentioned being able to tell by zipcode the likelihood of a decent education....... then what appears to be common between the 50% "blacks" and the 50% "white" prison population is a literacy rate in the low 20% in a nation claiming less than 10% illiteracy in the population as a whole. With "we" who allow such disparity of educational outcomes bearing some of the fault?

NEH

Ahh yes... The Code of Hammurabi. "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth". If applied rigoursly enough, the whole world will end up toothless and blind. Is this what we want out of our Penal Code? Retribution or Reform, tough question. I much prefer Penal Servitude. At least the criminal may learn a marketable skill...

Manuela Perez - Enigmas

I think if this is the manufacturing levels of insecurity that you can not believe but this is not a problem only of amreica but throughout the world. The entire economy is affected by this.

Andrew

Great read. Nice to see facts brought, and not just opinions.

Jack

NEH -- That's likely a better summary of what's happening in our prison-industrial complex than you might imagine.

"An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth". If applied rigoursly enough, the whole world will end up toothless and blind. Is this what we want out of our Penal Code?"

............ as for a choice? Like any problem, illness of the individual or society as a whole if we put our energies and talents toward healing and reform we're A. VERY likely to learn more about the causes and B. develop better means of reforming the individuals...... and the societal flaws that contribute the US locking up its fellow citizens at five or more times the rate of the more civilized nations.

I'd agree that society has to be protected from stuff like WS thieves, mass terrorists and murderers who must be segregated in order to protect the public.

BTW there seems to be a trickle of WS thieves headed for prison terms.. not nearly the rate it should be but an encouraging beginning.

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C, D, and E are just as possible as B. A is the only thing that's been proved, and those who went to use nonobjectvie standards have the burden of proof on them.

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BTW there seems to be a trickle of WS thieves headed for prison terms.. not nearly the rate it should be but an encouraging beginning.

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NEH -- That's likely a better summary of what's happening in our prison-industrial complex than you might imagine.

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Recently in a discussion of education the speaker mentioned being able to tell by zipcode the likelihood of a decent education....... then what appears to be common between the 50% "blacks" and the 50% "white" prison population is a literacy rate in the low 20% in a nation claiming less than 10% illiteracy in the population as a whole. With "we" who allow such disparity of educational outcomes bearing some of the fault?

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............ as for a choice? Like any problem, illness of the individual or society as a whole if we put our energies and talents toward healing and reform we're A. VERY likely to learn more about the causes and B. develop better means of reforming the individuals...... and the societal flaws that contribute the US locking up its fellow citizens at five or more times the rate of the more civilized nations.

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goood
its been almost six years since i came to america from spain, and it completely change my life.

nelson

this article has an incredible idea , i like it . thanks

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