No, Sen. Jim Webb’s concerns don’t go there. Surprised?
By Jack E. Lohman
But this is an excellent Newsweek article anyway. It outlines the high incarceration rates in the U.S. even though it fails to relate them to the growth in campaign contributions from the “privatized” corrections industry.
“In 1980, fewer than 500,000 Americans were in prison; today, the number is 2.3 million. To put that statistic in perspective, the median incarceration rate among all countries is 125 prisoners for every 100,000 people. In England, it’s 153; Germany, 89; Japan, a mere 63. In America, it’s 743, by far the highest in the world.”
It is not just coincidental that the rise in prison population follows the rise in political contributions from the industry that benefits from same; private prison owners under contract to the states.
So we see tougher laws because three-strikes and minimum sentencing laws fill prison beds and satisfy the prison industry. But they are significantly burdening taxpayers and ruining lives.
Indeed we should lock up murderers, child molesters and drug pushers. But we should be rehabilitating drug and alcohol users, which can be done at a fraction of the cost.
I could buy the “tough love” argument if campaign bribes were not flowing to our government leaders, but it is time to rethink this total issue. Most importantly the political corruption that has trashed our economy as well.
The drug war? We’ve lost it!
And we can’t afford it, but that’s a different story.
If we relaxed the laws by decriminalizing “usage,” we’d see lower or zero profits and eliminate the incentive for “pushers” to enter schoolyards and hook our children by giving away drugs for free. And we’d eliminate the drug wars that are killing so many people in Mexico and on our borders.
Sometimes we Americans are not very smart.
“Other countries have legalized drugs and have lowered crime rates. A recent report shows that state prison rates have quadrupled since 1982 and it costs $3.42 a day on average to supervise an offender on probation, compared to $78.95 a day to house them in prison.” Source
Nothing is perfect but the Netherlands’ policy has great merit. Certainly quite different from Louisiana’s at 853 and Wisconsin’s at 374 and Maine’s 151 per 100,000. The U.S. is 743 overall compared to China’s at 120 and the Netherlands at 94, but California’s having to release non-violent criminals should send an important message.
We have much to learn. If only our politicians could break the money strings and do the right thing.