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Tuesday, October 23

Too many criminals? Build more prisons! Buy more beds!

Let's hear it for the war on drugs- it's created a multi multi multi billion dollar industry.

Prison Crisis: Will California Spend More on Jails Than Universities?
Excerpt:
"There's no strategy behind the incarceration," says attorney Sara Norman of the Bay Area-based prisoner-rights group, the Prison Law Office. Her colleague Don Specter goes further. The state, he says, is all-too-quick to incarcerate, but is "unwilling to pay for the humane treatment" of those it locks up for years and even decades at a stretch.

While more and more dollars are being devoted to corrections, the amount of money available per inmate for programming (such as education, drug treatment, vocational training, mental health care and so on) has declined as a percentage of the total cost of incarceration. In June, the state senate subcommittee in charge of overseeing the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's budget reported that a mere 5 percent of the $43,000 California spends on each inmate each year currently goes toward rehabilitation programs.

To understand what has gone wrong, one has to go back more than 30 years and examine a generation's worth of flawed criminal justice policy-making at both the state and federal levels. It's what freelance journalist and one-time editor of the Boulder Weekly Joel Dyer once pungently termed a "perpetual prisoner machine."
I thought the whole article was pretty informative and eye opening. What struck me after reading it was this pervasive attitude that many Americans have of a disposable society- you don't like something, then get rid of it- kill it, put it away. Out of sight, out of mind.

The war on terror works that way. Rather than do something to help fight socio-political injustice in the world that causes many to feel so helpless that they resort to violence in order to get attention, world powers (especially ours) find it profitable to just go and bomb the shit out of the so called "bad guys." How will we know when we've won the war on terror? When we've killed all the terrorists and scared the shit out of everyone else? That seems unlikely.

The war on drugs, the war on crime, and the war on everything we deem socially unacceptable is being solved by locking up those who violate the laws. It doesn't seem to dawn on anyone that with some creative thinking, there may be ways for the PTB to make money in preventing many citizens from ending up in jail in the first place. Oh I don't know... maybe if there was a good and fairly honest educational system in this country and if jobs paid a living wage at the very least, perhaps half the people who are now incarcerated wouldn't be. How will we win the war on drugs? When there are more prisons than schools?

What is with this gated community and more prisons mentality? It's so anti-social. Pretty soon we'll all be locked up one way or another.

The rich and powerful are getting away with murder. Once they have disenfranchised all of those living on the fringes of society now, who do you think will be left on the fringe? Does anyone in their right mind think that disenfranchisement will stop?

This whole disposable mindset effects everyone in every social class in America. We have disposable products, disposable values and disposable income- we use and abuse. We create landfills with items and scraps that could probably lift a third world country out of poverty. It's really not that shocking to learn the gory details at what goes on in our prison system when you think about how we live and what we throw away.

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